By Caitlin Gibson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 10:53 PM
A member of the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, was sentenced Dec. 10 to 10 years in prison for his role in a 2008 drive-by shooting in Sterling, the Loudoun County commonwealth's attorney said in a statement.
Hector Valdamir Campos-Aguilar, 19, pleaded guilty in July to three felony charges related to the shooting, which injured three people.
Campos-Aguilar, who was 17 at the time of the shooting and had previous felony convictions in Fairfax County, had been certified by the court to be tried as an adult.
"The judge sent a very powerful message here, and that is, 'If you choose to associate with gangs and participate in violent crimes, you're going to pay a steep price,'" Commonwealth's Attorney James E. Plowman said in a statement. "Our courts and our community have shown little tolerance for this type of criminal element, and my office is taking every opportunity to see that gang members are prosecuted harshly, regardless of the role they play."
The shooting occurred Sept. 17, 2008, near East Poplar Drive and Buckingham Court in Sterling.
A vehicle approached the three people, and several shots were fired through a passenger-side window. One victim was struck in the upper arm, a second was shot in the back and a third was left permanently paralyzed from the waist down, authorities said.
Authorities said they think the victims were mistakenly believed to be members of the 18th Street gang, a rival gang to MS-13, the commonwealth's attorney's office said.
The shooter, Antonio Neftali Urrutia Barerra, was also connected to an October 2008 shooting in Reston. He pleaded guilty to both shootings and is serving a 60-year sentence.
Under Virginia law, Campos-Aguilar, who was in the back seat of the vehicle at the time of the shooting, is considered equally responsible for the crime.
Campos-Aguilar, a native of El Salvador, was brought to the United States illegally by his parents at age 12 and will be deported upon the completion of his sentence, authorities said.