ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Several members of the MS-13 street gang will serve mandatory life sentences following their convictions in connection to kidnapping, murder, and extortion. The gang members targeted Carlos Otero-Henriquez, an 18-year-old Leesburg, Virginia resident, according to the Department of Justice.
They believed the teen was a member of the rival 18th Street gang, investigators said.
“On the evening of May 21, 2016, the gang members lured Otero-Henriquez into a vehicle… under the pretense that the group was going to a party,” a spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office said. “Instead, the group drove Otero-Henriquez to an isolated quarry near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. There, the group severely beat, restrained, and killed Otero-Henriquez, stabbing him more than 50 times with a knife. Afterwards, the gang left the Otero-Henriquez’s body in a nearby ditch, and returned to the home of Shannon Sanchez in Leesburg. Sanchez, another associate of the gang, helped them burn their clothes and destroy other evidence of the crime.”
“The hallmark of MS-13 is extreme violence,” Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said. “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.”
In addition to the murder, other gang members extorted another Leesburg resident.
“As part of the conspiracy, the defendants threatened violence to the victim and the victim’s family unless the victim made regular extortion payments to the gang,” the spokesperson said. “The victim’s family contacted law enforcement, and the victim thereafter wore an FBI body wire to record extortion payments the victim made to Guadron-Rodriguez and Zelaya-Gomez in March and April 2016. The FBI conducted surveillance of these payments both to ensure the victim’s safety, and to collect evidence against the gang.”
Ten defendants were charged in the cases, six went to trial, and were convicted of all charges. Four defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial.
“This unfortunate and disturbing case serves as another example as to why law enforcement must not relent in pursuing criminal gangs such as MS-13,” Leesburg Police Chief Gregory C. Brown said. “Through our collaborative partnerships, we will continue to aggressively investigate and work with prosecutors to ensure violent gang members receive the maximum punishment as allowed by the law. It is important for those who choose to engage in criminal gang activity to know that they are not welcome in our communities.”