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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 5, 2018

MS-13 Members Convicted of Kidnapping, Murder, and Extortion

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Six members of the street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, were convicted today by a federal jury for their roles in a kidnapping, murder, and an extortion conspiracy in Northern Virginia.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, in April and May 2016, MS-13 gang members and associates 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 Carlos Otero-Henriquez, an 18-year-old resident of Leesburg, because they believed Otero-Henriquez was a member of the rival 18th Street gang. On the evening of May 21, 2016, the gang members lured Otero-Henriquez into a vehicle occupied by Lazo, Treminio-Tobar, Pereira, Flores-Maravilla, Centeno, Viera-Gonzalez, and Zelaya-Gomez under the pretense that the group was going to a party. 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,” 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. 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 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. 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.

“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.”

“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, said Gregory C. Brown, Chief of Leesburg Police. “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.”

A total of 10 defendants were charged in this case. Of those, six defendants went to trial, and were convicted of all charges. Four defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial. See the table below for additional information on each defendant.

Name

 

Age,

Hometown

Convictions

Sentencing Info

Juan Carlos Guadron-Rodriguez

23, Leesburg

Conspiracy to Commit Extortion; Use of Interstate Facilities in Aid of Extortion

Maximum 25 years

Dublas Aristides Lazo

28, Leesburg

Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death

Mandatory life

Lelis Ezequiel Tremino-Tobar

21, Alexandria

Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death

Mandatory life

Carlos Jose Benitez Pereira

22, Alexandria

Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death

Mandatory life

Daniel Oswaldo Flores-Maravilla

20, Alexandria

Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping; Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Kidnapping Resulting in Death

Mandatory life

Andres Alexander Velasquez-Guevara

22, Leesburg

Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping

Maximum life

Shannon Marie Sanchez

36, Leesburg

Accessory After the Fact

Maximum 15 years on April 27

Miguel Zelaya-Gomez

20, Leesburg

Conspiracy to Commit Extortion; Kidnapping Resulting in Death

Life on Dec. 7, 2016

Wilmar Javier Viera-Gonzalez

24, Leesburg

Conspiracy to Commit Extortion; Kidnapping Resulting in Death

Mandatory life on March 23

Manuel Antonio Centeno

34, Leesburg

Kidnapping Resulting in Death

Mandatory life

 

Lazo, Treminio-Tobar, Pereira, and Flores-Maravilla face a mandatory sentence of life in prison for kidnapping resulting in death, in addition to the sentences they receive for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering. Velasquez-Guevara faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Guadron-Rodriguez faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of the five extortion charges for which he was convicted. Sanchez faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for accessory after the fact. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress, and is provided here for informational purposes. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Gregory C. Brown, Chief of Leesburg Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia T. Giles, Tobias D. Tobler, and Morris Parker are prosecuting the case.

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 (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Washington Field Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, and Fairfax County Police Department provided significant assistance during the investigation.

The case was part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation Raptor Claw. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-CR-209.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated March 6, 2018