Six members of the MS-13 street gang were convicted by a federal jury Monday for their roles in a kidnapping, murder, and an extortion conspiracy in Leesburg.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, in April and May 2016, MS-13 gang members and associates targeted Carlos Otero-Henriquez, an 18-year-old Leesburg resident, because they believed he was a member of the rival 18th Street gang.
On May 21, 2016, the gang members lured Otero-Henriquez into a vehicle under the pretense that the group was going to a party. Instead, they drove him to an isolated quarry near Harpers Ferry, WV. There, the group severely beat, restrained, and killed Otero-Henriquez, stabbing him more than 50 times with a knife. They left his body in a ditch and returned to Leesburg. At the home of Shannon Sanchez, another associate of the gang, they burned their clothes and destroyed other evidence of the crime, according to evidence in the case.
A total of 10 defendants—seven from Leesburg—were charged in this case. Of those, six went to trial and were convicted of all charges. Four defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial.
“The hallmark of MS-13 is extreme violence,” stated Tracy Doherty-McCormick, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in announcing the verdict. “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, Juan Carlos Guadron-Rodriguez, Wilmar Javier Viera-Gonzalez, and Miguel Zelaya-Gomez engaged in a conspiracy to extort the Leesburg resident. They threatened violence to the victim and the victim’s family unless the he made regular extortion payments to the gang. The victim’s family contacted law enforcement, and the victim then 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 recorded and photographed Guadron-Rodriguez and Zelaya-Gomez in the act of taking extortion money from the victim.
“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,” stated Andrew W. Vale, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “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.”
Leesburg Police Chief Gregory C. Brown said his agency works closely with others in the region to combat gangs.
“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,” Brown stated. “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.”
- Juan Carlos Guadron-Rodriguez, 23, Leesburg: conspiracy to commit extortion; use of interstate facilities in aid of extortion. A maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of the five extortion charges for which he was convicted;
- Dublas Aristides Lazo, 28, Leesburg: conspiracy to commit kidnapping; conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering; kidnapping resulting in death. Faces a mandatory life sentence.
- Lelis Ezequiel Tremino-Tobar, 21, Alexandria: Conspiracy to commit kidnapping; conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering; kidnapping resulting in death. Faces a mandatory life sentence.
- Carlos Jose Benitez Pereira, 22, Alexandria: Conspiracy to commit kidnapping; conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering; kidnapping resulting in death. Faces a mandatory life sentence.
- Daniel Oswaldo Flores-Maravilla, 20, Alexandria: Conspiracy to commit kidnapping; conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering; kidnapping resulting in death. Faces a mandatory life sentence.
- Andres Alexander Velasquez-Guevara, 22, Leesburg. Conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Maximum sentence life in prison.
- Shannon Marie Sanchez, 36, Leesburg: Accessory after the fact. Up to 15 years in prison.
- • Miguel Zelaya-Gomez, 20, Leesburg: conspiracy to commit extortion; kidnapping resulting in death. Sentenced to life in prison.
- Wilmar Javier Viera-Gonzalez, 24, Leesburg: Conspiracy to commit extortion; kidnapping resulting in death. Faces a mandatory life sentence.
- Manuel Antonio Centeno, 34, Leesburg: Kidnapping resulting in death. Faces a mandatory life sentence.
The Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations Washington Field Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Washington Field Division, and Fairfax County Police Department participated in the investigation.