Walter Yovany Gomez was captured in Woodbridge, Virginia after four months on the FBI's Most Wanted List for allegedly murdering his friend in Plainfield, N.J. in 2011, in a gang-related attack. Authorities credited the public's help in Gomez's capture. (Image: Courtesy of the FBI)

An MS-13 member who is accused of brutally butchering his friend as part of a gang initiation was apprehended after four months on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

Walter Yovany Gomez, who allegedly killed his friend with an aluminum baseball bat, a knife and a screwdriver after a night of drinking and smoking marijuana in the victim’s Plainfield, N.J. home in 2011, was snared in Woodbridge, Virginia on Friday.

Gomez, who had apparently earned his “letters” for the Plainfield Locos Salvatrucha crew through the slaying, had been placed on the federal “10 Most Wanted List” list in April.

He was arrested without incident in the Northern Virginia suburb of Washington D.C., after unnamed assistance from the public.

“The apprehension of Walter Yovany Gomez is a prime example of the close coordination between the vigilant public and the hard working men and women of law enforcement,” said Timothy Gallagher, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark field office. “Gomez will now stand trial for his alleged involvement in the brutal murder which took a young man from his family.”


Gomez was assigned the “hit” by the MS-13 bosses when they heard that Matute, a gang associate, had been seen socializing in a local bar with a rival from the 18th Street Gang, according to authorities.

The collegial interaction with the rival gangmember was an act punishable by death in the Plainfield Locos Salvatrucha set, according to the FBI.

Officials say Gomez, who was Matute’s friend, invited himself and a co-conspirator to Matute’s house on May 8, 2011. (One other person unfamiliar with the plot was present, as well). The four drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and watched TV all night.

“They were all friends. The victim had no reason to suspect that he was going to be murdered,” said Dan Brunner, the FBI-Newark special agent investigating the case.

Matute was getting dressed to go to work the next day when Gomez hit him in the back of the head with the baseball bat several times, authorities allege.

Gomez then allegedly slit his throat with a knife—and stabbed him at least 17 times in the back with a screwdriver in the grisly killing.

The wounds were extreme enough that investigators were initially unsure of the weapon, said Brunner.

“He was stabbed so many times that when his body was discovered a week later, police officers though that he had been shot with a shotgun,” said the FBI agent.

The co-conspirator was quickly arrested after the discovery of Matute’s body—but Gomez fled out a back window of his residence into nearby woods as officers approached. Gomez was believed to have been driven south—possibly to Maryland and Northern Virginia, where there are thousands of MS-13 members, said authorities. Other agencies leading the search in Virginia were the Washington Field Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force, the Fairfax County Police Gang Unit and the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force.

The fellow attacker involved in Matute’s death was convicted and sentenced to a mandatory life sentence. Gomez himself was charged with murder in the aid of racketeering (also a mandatory life sentence), in absentia in 2013.

The FBI was offering a $100,000 reward in exchange for information leading to Gomez, who was known as “Cholo,” a Honduran-born national who did construction laying drywall.

The FBI Most Wanted List debuted in 1950. Since then, 514 fugitives have been placed on it, and 482 of them have been apprehended or located—161 of them due to citizen cooperation.

Gomez remains in custody pending extradition proceedings.