A federal grand jury in Maryland has indicted four MS-13 gang members on conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence in connection with the murder of a fellow gang member last year.
The victim, Jacson Pineda-Chicas of Parkwood Court in Falls Church, had been stabbed more than 100 times and his body dumped and set on fire in Stafford County.
Charged in the three-count indictment are Jose Domingo Ordonez-Zometa, a/k/a “Felon,” 31, of Landover Hills, Maryland; Jose Rafael Ortega-Ayala, 28, of Washington, D.C.; Jose Henry Hernandez-Garcia, 26, of no fixed address; and Kevin Alexis Rodriguez-Flores, 20, of Stafford. The men are also charged with first-degree murder in Prince George's County, Maryland.
MS-13 is a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Maryland, Virginia, and throughout the United States.
To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members are expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office.
MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the gang. Another principal rule of MS-13 is that its members must never cooperate with law enforcement. Violation of this rule results in an order of death for the offender.
According to indictment, the defendants were members and associates of the Los Ghettos Criminales Salvatruchas (“LCGS” or “Ghettos”) clique of MS-13, with Ordonez being the leader.
MS-13 members and associates met on a regular basis to, among other things, discuss gang affairs and report on acts of violence committed by their members, with the goal of inciting and encouraging further violence, according to the criminal complaint.
The indictment alleges that on March 8, 2019, Ordonez held a meeting for LCGS clique members at his home to discuss recent contacts the victim, Pineda-Chicas, had with police. During the meeting, Ordonez questioned Pineda-Chicas about his recent interaction with police and other matters. As a result of suspicions Pineda-Chicas was cooperating with police, the defendants and at least one other MS-13 member allegedly assaulted him and another gang members who tried to defend him, the criminal complaint said.
Pineda-Chicas was beaten, cut, and stabbed more than 100 times. The indictment alleges that Ortega, Hernandez, Rodriguez, and other LGCS clique members stabbed and murdered Pineda-Chicas on Ordonez’ orders.
According to the indictment, Ordonez then directed clique members to conceal and destroy evidence of the murder, telling them to take Pineda-Chicas' body to a secluded location in Stafford, and set it on fire.
Ordonez, Hernandez, and Rodriguez, the indictment alleges, stayed at the crime scene and attempted to destroy, remove, and conceal evidence of the murder. When Ortega returned from Stafford, the defendants and others attempted to remove any evidence of the murder, including blood, from the vehicle used to transport the body, the indictment alleges.
Pineda-Chicas' remains were found about 5 a.m. March 12 off River Road in Stafford County. The Stafford Sheriff's Office was initially unable to identify the victim, but after releasing a photo of a distinctive tattoo on his arm, they received a tip on his identity.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Initial appearances have not yet been scheduled in U.S. District Court.