The gang members’ crimes dealt with the brutal murder and decapitation of two men in Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in Mason District. FBI agents spent a couple of days in May 2014 searching for the bodies in that park.
“Extreme violence is the hallmark of MS-13, and these horrific crimes represent exactly what the gang stands for,” said federal attorney Dana J. Boente. “This was a highly complicated, death penalty-eligible case with 13 defendants and more than two dozen defense attorneys.”
“The defendants terrorized our local communities with senseless, depraved acts of threats, intimidation, and violence,” said Paul M. Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office. “This verdict sends a clear message that the FBI will hold violent gangs and murderers fully accountable for their actions.”
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, on Oct. 1, 2013, Jose Lopez Torres, Jaime Rosales Villegas, and others drove to Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge to murder a fellow gang member. Another gang member, Pedro Anthony Romero Cruz, participated from prison on a contraband cell phone.
However, one of the gang members in the car had not only alerted police to the murder plot, he also made recorded phone calls and wore a body wire to a meeting where the gang members planned the murder. As a result, the gang members’ vehicle was under surveillance that night, the victim had been warned to not be at school, and the informant was wearing a body wire.
|Holmes Run Park, where the FBI found the bodies of murdered gang members.|
They buried Trujillo in a shallow grave. Several gang members returned a short time later and, with the assistance of Alvin Gaitan Benitez, reburied the body.
On March 29, 2014, court records and evidence show that Castillo, Benitez, Christian Lemus Cerna, Manuel Ernesto Paiz Guevara, Villanueva, Del Cid, and another MS-13 member murdered Gerson Adoni Martinez Aguilar, a gang recruit, for breaking gang rules. Like Trujillo, Aguilar was lured to Holmes Run Park, where they repeatedly stabbed him, cut off his head, and buried him in a shallow grave.
Jesus Alejandro Chavez, Del Cid, and Genaro Sen Garcia were convicted in the murder of Julio Urrutia. On June 19, 2014, several gang members, including Chavez, who had been released from prison eight days earlier, were out looking for rival gang members when they approached a group of young men, flashed their gang signs, and challenged them about their gang affiliation. During the exchange Chavez pulled out a gun and shot Urrutia in the neck at point blank range.
A total of 13 defendants were charged in this case. Of those, six defendants went to trial and were convicted of all charges. Six defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial, and one defendant was severed from the case and will have a separate trial at a later date.
Each defendant convicted at trial faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison when sentenced. Villegas and Cruz face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the conspiracy to commit murder charge, in addition to a consecutive minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Villegas also faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the attempted murder charge.
The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress. The actual sentence for each defendant will be determined by the court based on advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.