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MS-13 members convicted in Virginia court of murder, kidnapping and extortion

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted six members of the gang MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, for their roles in a  kidnapping, murder and an extortion conspiracy in Northern Virginia.

The gang members, Dublas Aristides Lazo, Lelis Ezequiel Tremino-Tobar, Carlos Benitez Pereira, Daniel Oswaldo Flores-Maravilla, Andres Alexander Velasquez-Guevara, Manuel Antonio Centeno, Wilmer Viera-Gonzalez, and Miguel Zelaya-Gomez, targeted 18-year-old Carlos Otero-Henriquez, because they believed he was a member of the rival 18th Street gang, according to court documents.

The Justice Department proved through court records and evidence that on May 21, 2016, the gang members lured Otero-Henriquez into a vehicle, under the false pretenses that they were all going to a party.

This is when the group drove Otero-Henriquez to an isolated quarry near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and severely beat, restrained and killed the 18-year-old.

After dumping his body in a nearby ditch, the group headed back to the home of Shannon Sanchez in Leesburg, Virginia. The gang members also burned their clothes and destroyed other evidence that linked them to the crime.

“The hallmark of MS-13 is extreme violence,” said Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This brutal kidnapping and murder is a tragic reminder of the impact MS-13 has on communities here in Northern Virginia. My hope is that our efforts to investigate and prosecute this case will send a clear message: Violence will be aggressively prosecuted. I want to thank our trial team and investigative partners for their terrific work on this case and for bringing these criminals to justice.”

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from January 2016 through April 2016, Juan Carlos Guadron-Rodriguez, Wilmar Javier Viera-Gonzalez, and Miguel Zelaya-Gomez engaged in a conspiracy to extort an individual victim residing in Leesburg, Virginia.

During this conspiracy, these three members of the gang also threatened violence to the victim and the victim’s family, unless the victim made regular extortion payments to the gang.

Law enforcement was contacted by the family about the incidents. After this is when the victim wore a wire for the FBI and was able to have a conversation that engaged in the extortion talks between the victim and the gang members.

Through these investigative steps, the FBI was able to record and photograph Guadron-Rodriguez and Zelaya-Gomez in the act of taking extortion money from the victim, according to the Justice Department.

“This horrendous kidnapping and murder was a senseless and inhumane act committed by MS-13 members,” said Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Today’s verdict sends a clear message that the FBI, along with our local, state and other federal law enforcement agencies, will hold violent gang members and murderers fully accountable for their actions. The FBI, along with our partners, work relentlessly to ensure violent gangs and murderers are brought to justice. I would like to thank the agents, analysts, task force officers, and prosecutors for their unwavering efforts to eliminate gang violence in our communities.”

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

In all, 10 defendants were charged and convicted.

Below is information on them and the charges they were convicted of: 

  • Juan Carlos Guadron-Rodriguez; 23-years-old Leesburg; Conspiracy to Commit Extortion; Use of Interstate Facilities in Aid of Extortion
  • Dublas Aristides Lazo; 28-years-old; Leesburg; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death
  • Lelis Ezequiel Tremino-Tobar; 21-years-old; Alexandria, Virginia; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death
  • Carlos Jose Benitez Pereira; 22-years-old; Alexandria, Virginia; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death
  • Daniel Oswaldo Flores-Maravilla; 20-years-old; Alexandria, Virginia; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death
  • Andres Alexander Velasquez-Guevara; 22-years-old; Leesburg, Virginia; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping
  • Shannon Marie Sanchez; 36-years-old, Leesburg, Virginia; Conspiracy to Commit Extortion; Kidnapping Resulting in Death
  • Wilmar Javier Viera-Gonzalez; 24-years-old; Leesburg, Virginia; Conspiracy to Commit Extortion; Kidnapping Resulting Death
  • Manuel Antonio Centeno; 34-years-old; Leesburg, Virginia; Kidnapping Resulting in Death