2 Indicted in Alleged Gang Killing at Springfield Mall

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By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two suspected members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have been indicted in a slaying outside Springfield Mall in December that was another case of Latino gang members attacking someone from a rival gang to enhance their status, federal prosecutors said yesterday.

Christian Argueta, 19, and another man were walking out of the Cerro Grande restaurant in the mall at 2 a.m. when they were confronted in the parking lot by two men. Argueta was fatally shot, his friend escaped unharmed and Fairfax County police began investigating their third gang-related slaying of 2007.

Homicide detectives working with agents from the FBI's violent gang task force developed informants who led them to three men, court records show. Rafael Parada-Mendoza, 21, was the gunman and Gabriel Hosman Perez-Amaya, 21, was the second man at the shooting, the records say. A third man, Jorge Parada, 28, was charged with the other two with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

All three are suspected members of Pinos Locos Salvatrucha, a clique within MS-13, and the slaying was committed "for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing position in MS-13," according to an eight-count indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Since 2002, 19 members of MS-13 have been convicted of murder or attempted murder in federal court in Alexandria. Most recently, five MS-13 members were convicted in December of attempted murder for a stabbing at Springfield Mall in which the knife missed the 15-year-old victim's heart by a centimeter, prosecutors said.

The investigation into Argueta's slaying was aided by four witnesses who identified Parada-Mendoza as the gunman. Last month, an MS-13 member told investigators that he was present when the shooting occurred and that a fellow gang member named Chevy shot Argueta, according to an affidavit by FBI agent Robert G. Saale. The gang member said Chevy discussed the shooting at a gathering later that morning, Saale wrote.

Two other informants told investigators that Chevy was a gang member and had "admitted that he shot the victim outside the Cerro Grande," Saale's affidavit states. Yet another witness told investigators that Chevy owned a gun and had shown the witness the gun.

Parada-Mendoza, known to Fairfax gang investigators as Chevy, was arrested March 19 in Texas. Perez-Amaya was arrested March 14 in Arlington. Parada was arrested April 19 in Texas, prosecutors said.

Staff writer Jerry Markon contributed to this report.

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