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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Three Men Indicted for Kidnapping Conspiracy

Allegedly Used Social Media to Lure Victim from New Jersey to Maryland in order to Kill the Victim

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted three men for a kidnapping conspiracy in which the defendants allegedly lured the victim from New Jersey to Maryland, in order to kill the victim. The indictment was returned on March 20, 2017. The indictment charges the following individuals:

 

Neris Moreno-Martinez, a/k/a Jose Neris Moreno, Jr., age 19, of West New York, New Jersey;

Jose Israel Melendez-Rivera, age 19, of Montgomery Village, Maryland; and

Reynaldo Alexi Granados-Vasquez, age 21, of Gaithersburg, Maryland

 

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

 

“This indictment alleges a horrifically planned effort to lure a victim across multiple states into Maryland with the sole purpose of kidnapping and inflicting grotesque bodily harm,” said Andre R. Watson, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Baltimore. “HSI will continue to use its wide jurisdictional authorities and collaborate with state and local law enforcement to ensure that we shield Maryland-area communities from this type of violent criminal activity.”

 

According to the indictment, on October 1, 2016, Moreno created a social media account in the name of Shaila Smith. From that time until October 15, 2016, Moreno, and others acting at the direction of Moreno, posed as Shaila Smith and used the social media account to communicate with the victim. Pretending to be Shaila Smith, Moreno and his co-conspirators allegedly expressed a romantic interest in the victim and persuaded the victim to travel from New Jersey to Maryland to meet in person. Using the Shaila Smith social media account, Moreno and his co-conspirators instructed the victim when to travel to Maryland, what transportation service to use, and provided Melendez-Rivera’s address as the location where the victim should meet “Shaila Smith.”

 

The indictment alleges that on October 15, 2016, Moreno traveled from New Jersey to Maryland in order to kill the victim. According to the indictment, on October 15, 2016, Moreno, Melendez-Rivera and Granados-Vasquez killed the victim in a wooded area in Gaithersburg and buried the victim’s body in a shallow grave.

 

The defendants each face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the conspiracy. Reynaldo Granados-Vasquez had his initial appearance at 1:45 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day, in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt and is detained. An initial appearance for Moreno and Melendez-Rivera has not yet been scheduled. They are currently detained on related state charges.

 

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

 

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI-Baltimore, the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lindsay Eyler Kaplan and Daniel C. Gardner, who are prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated March 21, 2017