The sentence is vindication for former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross who lambasted the suit and called the ACLU “paper warriors.” 

By Michele McPhee

On Christmas morning in 2016 a gruesome crime scene unfolded outside my East Boston window: the dismembered body of a 18-year-old Luis Ruano was found in a pool of blood in a staircase at the bottom of the bleachers of Memorial Stadium public park. 

Ruano, a Guatemalan immigrant, had been stabbed more than a dozen times, his neck had been slashed, his chest ripped open by knives wielded by multiple suspects – including one that had “made a mockery of America’s immigration laws,” a man who had inked devil’s horns between the letters M-S on his abdomen and texted a buddy about the teen who he had just killed writing: “He was left with his pants down, doggie. I wanted to steal his shoes,” but, he added, the shoes were stained with Ruano’s blood. “Brand new shoes. Son of a bitch.” 

This week that man, Hector Salvador Gutierrez, an MS homeboy with the Sykos clique who terrorized Eastie and the north shore using the moniker Perverso, was sentenced to life in prison for killing Ruano along with the 2018 killing of another man in Lynn. Perverso’s sentencing is one of many connected with the unbelievable work of a sting operation run by State Police, local detectives from the North Shore Gang Task Force, the FBI, and a team of dedicated federal prosecutors in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office called Operation Mean Streets [the subject of my next book to be released by Berkley Books sometime next year.]

The Perverso story should also be studied as a lesson to anyone who is reporting on or representing MS-13.  The ACLU cited Perverso, a man with multiple arrests for carrying knives and machetes, one covered with MS-13 ink, as an argument when it sued the BPD to shut down the gang database, which then led to a personal war of words with former Boston Police Commissioner Willie Gross.  The ACLU argued that Gutierrez’s tattoo was just to show pride in his homeland of El Salvador. The knife? Perverso successfully convinced an immigration judge that he had it to “cut things around the house,” prosecutors said. The machete? That was “to chop wood at his mother’s house.” And he wouldn’t join MS because “my family and I do not like them,” Perverso told the judge. And the judge believed him.

As if these ludicrous assertions were not embarrassing enough for the ACLU, they were repeated in the Boston Globe, prosecutors say. Apparently, the reporter didn’t bother to check the ACLU’s argument about Perverso with a single police source. And believe me, Perverso was what the cops call “well-known to police ” as an “impact player” for MS-13 by then.  The government put it this way in a sentencing memorandum: “[Perverso] somehow also made himself a poster child for stories about unfair law enforcement efforts to target gangs like MS-13. A mere two weeks before he was indicted for racketeering and murder in this case, [Perverso] appears to have been the subject of a featured profile in the Boston Globe in a story on ICE and the Boston Police’s efforts to detail people like [Perverso.]” The italics are the governments by the way.

The article went on to note that “the immigration judge released [Perverso] in June 2018 because the court was not convinced” that he was a gang member. “Ending on a happy and cheerful note,” prosecutors wrote,” the article concluded by saying that, “he has since been reunited with his infant son and is trying to finish high school.’” 

That would be East Boston High School, where in recent years at least six students were murdered – bludgeoned, shot, stabbed, dismembered by machetes — by their MS-13 connected classmates. I don’t remember seeing stories about the slaughter of a half dozen Eastie kids, maybe because the victims were all unaccompanied alien children, or UACs, undocumented kids in Boston on their own or with family members they had never met before. The kids in the cracks.

Herson Rivas, one of MS-13’s many victims, pictured here with his mother and siblings

Remember, Perverso went to school carrying knives and machetes, which is what landed him on the BPD’s gang database in the first place. In that same sentencing memorandum, the government reminds us Perverso had “three prior arrests for carrying a knife or dangerous weapon prior to his first murder.” Again, the italics are the governments, to drive home the point that if those arrests had been taken seriously there wouldn’t have been a Christmas Eve murder in East Boston’s bustling the gang database is critical to protect those vulnerable teens from homeboys, MS-13 recruiters, specifically sent into schools with high numbers of UACs. They purposefully would target at-risk immigrants who had fled unimaginable violence in their homelands, instead to just find themselves greeted by guys like Perverso, who made slick MS-13 music videos in the high school cafeterias and hallways. If that doesn’t work, some of its new recruits, known as chequeos and parros, would be forced to do the gang’s bidding or die. 

Especially in Eastie, where MS-13 even had a “destroyer house,” a headquarters for MS business, directly across the street from the high school at 55 White Street, one that was raided weeks after the Christmas Eve murder in Memorial Stadium park. But that wasn’t the only killing in my neighborhood. Wilson Martinez, 15, was found hacked to death on Constitution Beach on Labor Day 2015. He was slated to start school the next day but instead he was catfished by a fake girl on Facebook and instead of going on a first date he was ambushed, stabbed 33 times, and beaten with rocks.  

Just some of the victims of MS-13; Luis Fernando Orellana Ruano, 18 Years-Old, Christofer Perez de la Cruz, 16 years-old, Irvin DePaz, 15 years-old and Wilson Martinez, 15 years-old

A few weeks later, Irvin DePaz, 15, was chased down a crowded East Boston street by a MS-13 banger nicknamed “Animal” and stabbed to death in front of dozens of witnesses. In Jan. 2016, Christofer Perez de la Cruz was found dead on Falcon Street in East Boston. It was a brutal attack. He was shot multiple times, stabbed repeatedly, and his hands were hacked off with a machete.

These are only a few. So, before lawyers and judges and reporters who haven’t seen the damage MS-13 has done to the communities they terrorize, which includes extorting their neighbors for “rent,” essentially a breathing tax, want to jump on the bandwagon to take away a vital law enforcement tool to stop these kinds of murders they should do their homework.

And take these facts into consideration: After the Operation Mean Streets takedown [during which Central American immigrants took to the streets to applaud cops, ICE, and the FBI as MS-13 homeboys were dragged out of destroyer houses all over the north shore] there was one last terrifying slaying of an East High School student;

In June 2016, a young immigrant from El Salvador, Blanca Lainez, was found dead in Eastie.. Detectives created a gruesome timeline with CCTV video showing her walking with classmates after school.  They lured her into a construction site, stabbed her repeatedly, and bludgeoned her face beyond recognition.  

Family photo of Blanca Lainez

Officials believe she was killed because her boyfriend, a MS-13 recruiter nicknamed Crazy, heard that she talked to a boy connected to 18th Street at Eastie High. Crazy is now serving a life sentence. Blanca’s alleged killers, Angel Ramos, 21, and her Eastie High classmate Jose Hernandez, 16, are still awaiting trial.

Taking down these MS-13 leaders have led to true change in East Boston. On any given day there are families playing on the grass at Memorial Stadium park. Pick-up soccer games. Dog walkers and runners. It’s a beautiful, urban green space that I love to enjoy.

In the years before the takedown most people wouldn’t go to the park after dark, afraid of the lurking, tattooed gang members who congregated in a gazebo outside my window to plot the killings or their rivals, a term that MS-13 refers to for its young wannabe members as“getting wet.”  

Today that term in my park applies only to the kids playing in the splash fountain.