Leader of violent gang sentenced for role in 5 murders

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say the leader of a violent gang has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings of five people.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman says defendant Martin Neftali Aguilar-Rivera directed the central Ohio branch of the El Salvador-based MS-13 gang from 2015 to 2017.

Glassman says gang members became more organized, more ruthless and more violent under the leadership of the 34-year-old Aguilar-Rivera, who was sentenced Wednesday.

Defense attorney Diane Menashe called the outcome a just sentence given that Aguilar-Rivera faced the possibility of the death penalty. She said he accepted responsibility for his crimes.

Aguilar-Rivera was among 29 individuals charged in central Ohio recent years in a racketeering conspiracy including murder, attempted murder, assault, drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges.