High-ranking MS-13 gang member gets 13 years for conspiracy
A high-ranking member of the MS-13 street gang was sentenced to serve 13 years in prison for his role in a racketeering conspiracy that included a murder plot.
42-year-old Joel Cortez, also known as "Pee Wee," was sentenced in federal court in Newark on Wednesday.
Cortez is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence in California. His sentence for the racketeering conspiracy will run concurrently with the time he's already serving.
Prosecutors say Cortez was tasked with consolidating MS-13's east coast gang cliques into a "national program" under a single leadership structure.
As part of this work, authorities say Cortez coordinated the distribution of Mexican cartel drugs and signed off on the murder of a rival gang leader in Hudson County that investigators were able to stop.
The Associated Press wire services helped contribute to this report.