Defendant in MS-13 case takes deal, receives 19 year sentence

Arrested as part of Operation Matador

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - An alleged member of the MS-13 criminal street gang arrested in 2016 as part of a massive law enforcement operation will serve 19 years in prison.

Ezequiel Escalante-Rivera, 34, was indicted by the Grand Jury on multiple counts of Gang Conspiracy.

On Monday, he appeared in Santa Maria Superior Court where he pleaded guilty to two counts of gang conspiracy, one with a special allegation of use of a firearm.

By pleading guilty to the charges, Escalante-Rivera received a sentence of 19 years and 4 months in state prison. He also agreed to waive a year of time he was credited for serving, bringing his total sentence to 20 years and 4 months.

By agreeing to the plea deal, Escalante-Rivera avoided additional charges related to gang conspiracy.

Escalante-Rivera is one of more than a dozen people who were arrested as part of a major law enforcement operation known as Operation Matador. Lead by the Santa Maria Police Department, the March 2016 raids throughout the Santa Maria area resulted in multiple arrests and dozens of charges linked to gang activity and conspiracy.

12 of the men who were arrested were indicted by the grand jury. Escalante is the only one not facing charges related to conspiracy to commit murder in addition to gang activity.

10 remaining defendants are due in court on Oct. 18.

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