Five members of the transnational street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have received life in prison for their roles in the 2016 kidnappings and murders of two teenage boys in Northern Virginia.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, MS-13 gang members Elmer Zelaya Martinez, Ronald Herrera Contreras, Henry Zelaya Martinez, Pablo Velasco Barrera, and Duglas Ramirez Ferrera, along with their co-conspirators, targeted a 17-year-old Falls Church boy who they erroneously suspected was a member of the rival 18th Street gang.

On the night of Aug. 28, 2016, the gang lured the victim to Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in Fairfax County under the pretense that there was going to be a gang meeting there, the U.S. District Attorney's Office for Eastern Virginia said in a news release.

Instead, in a wooded area of the park, gang members restrained, attacked, and killed the teen, stabbing and chopping him more than 100 times with knives, a machete, and a pickaxe, according to court records. Afterwards, the gang broke one of teen’s legs so that his body would fit into the pre-dug hole that was nearby.

Court records and evidence presented at trial also established that the same gang members, along with their co-conspirators, targeted a 14-year-old boy from Alexandria, who they erroneously suspected was a police informant, court records show. On the evening of Sept. 26, 2016, the gang told the victim there was going to be a gang meeting later that night and encouraged him to attend. Not long thereafter, the teen went outside in his pajamas, telling his mother he was just taking out the trash.

Eventually, several gang members picked up the teen and drove him to the same park where they had killed 16-year-old boy. The gang members restrained, attacked, and killed the second victim, stabbing and chopping him with knives, machetes, and a pickaxe. They also filmed the murder with a cell phone so that they could prove to gang leaders in the United States and in El Salvador that they deserved to be promoted in rank, according to court records.

Once the boy was dead, the gang broke his legs and tied him up with his own pajama pants so that he would fit into the shallow grave that was dug for him that night.

“Words alone are incapable of describing the tragedy and senselessness that mark this case. Mere proximity to MS-13 and its twisted code cost two unassuming teenage boys their lives. In the wake of their appallingly violent murders lie wrecked families and fear-stricken communities,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The sentences of life imprisonment imposed by the court are fitting; they will protect the public from these five defendants, send a message to other members and associates of MS-13 that there will be severe consequences for committing violent crimes in furtherance of their gang’s illicit activities, and provide a measure of justice for the victims and their families. EDVA remains steadfast in its commitment to prosecuting members of street gangs and deterring acts of violence perpetrated in their name.”

To date, a total of 17 defendants have been charged in this case, five of whom went to trial and were convicted of all charges. Nine defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial. See the table below for additional information on the defendants who were convicted at trial.

Name

Age

Country of Origin

Convictions

Sentence

Elmer Zelaya Martinez

31

El Salvador

Conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to kidnap; murder in aid of racketeering activity; kidnapping resulting in death

Sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment and two terms of 120 months, all to run concurrently

Ronald Herrera Contreras

24

El Salvador

Conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to kidnap; murder in aid of racketeering activity; kidnapping resulting in death

Sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment and two terms of 120 months, all to run concurrently

Henry Zelaya Martinez

28

El Salvador

Conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to kidnap; murder in aid of racketeering activity; kidnapping resulting in death

Sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment and two terms of 120 months, all to run concurrently

Pablo Velasco Barrera

24

El Salvador

Conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to kidnap; murder in aid of racketeering activity; kidnapping resulting in death

Sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment and two terms of 120 months, all to run concurrently

Duglas Ramirez Ferrera

26

El Salvador

Conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to kidnap; murder in aid of racketeering activity; kidnapping resulting in death

Sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment and two terms of 120 months, all to run concurrently

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Kevin Davis, Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr.

 

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(15) comments

Casey Avatar

Thanks Blackface for abolishing the death penalty and making taxpayers house, feed & clothe these animals for the rest of their lives, or until some liberal parole officer let's them out to kill again! Remember this Murder is always easier after the first time!

Lynne June

Horrible crime; well-deserved sentence.

Popular Misconception

I'm principally against the death penalty. But guys like this, who go in lockup only to befriend other criminals and strengthen their positions from inside prison, definitely make me question my position on things.

Patrick Mcconnell

Maximum sentences needed for criminals to keep crime down. Police need to investigate and arrest. Prosecutors need to zealously prosecute and recommend maximum sentence. Jury and judge need to do maximum sentence. The community owes these criminals nothing but accountability for crimes committed.liberal commonwealth attys need to be voted out.

Brad London

More of Biden/0bama's illegals doing good deeds in the community I see. People need to vote out the clueless democrats who support open borders.

Tom Manson

You realize these weren't illegals, not were they Biden's? This happened under Trump. But who is president is immaterial you fool.

Paul Benedict

Thank goodness guns were not used in these violent gang activities, because that would have been really bad.

So, do six life sentences in reality equal parole in 5 years? Sound like severe sentences, but will they stick?

Rod McSmith

Pure trash straight from El Salvador.

George Lawton IV

Another wonderful lesson in diversity, equity and inclusion….now repeat after me “diversity is our strength”

John Dutko

Leaked memos from corporations such as Amazon have shown that they want diversity within their workplace... as the workers are less likely to unionize.

Dick Grayson

Has nothing to do with thread, like usual.

Tom Manson

This is a common mocking response in the white nationalist movement. You want a Lilly white country, no diversity, just like Hitler did. Moron.

Paul Benedict

Darn you figured us out. At our last Lily White Nationalist Meeting in Manassas we elected Yesli Vega president, Hung Cao vice president and Winsome Earle-Sears Secretary-Treasurer. Now, it's back to the drawing board. We must come up with a new scheme.

John Dutko

Are you giving yourselves pats on the back for diversity quotas?

Duke Nukem

I wonder if they had El Salvadorian flags hanging from their rear view mirrors.

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