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Three accused of MS-13 gang-related violence in Virginia

La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, has had a presence in the Washington suburbs for at least two decades.
La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, has had a presence in the Washington suburbs for at least two decades. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
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Three MS-13 gang members were involved in a slaying in Charlottesville three years ago and two attempted killings in Prince William County last year, according to federal prosecutors.

An indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria charges three Virginia men, who are in their 20s and early 30s, in connection with the violence and alleges that they were members of an East Coast clique of the El Salvador-based gang.

La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s and has had a presence in the Washington suburbs for at least two decades. Periodic spates of violence have been followed by law enforcement crackdowns, and killings attributed to the gang have been in decline since 2017. But violent activity has continued.

Twice last year, according to the new indictment, MS-13 members in Prince William shot men thought to be rival gang members. The men survived.

Sixteen members of a Prince William clique, the Sitios Locos Salvatruchas, recently were charged in state court in connection with multiple gang-related crimes, including four slayings. Federal prosecutors in Alexandria have also recently charged local MS-13 members with sex-trafficking a 13-year-old girl and an El Salvador-based gang leader with terrorism.

MS-13 members charged in ‘random’ killings of four people in Va.

“We will not stop until we get MS-13 contained and eradicated,” U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger said during a recent news conference. “What we’re seeing from MS-13 is increased coordination, increased sophistication.”

The new indictment alleges that the defendants are linked to the 2017 killing of Marvin Joel Rivera Guevara, 24, whose mutilated body was left in a creek that runs through Charlottesville. Four people have already been convicted in state court in the killing. Prosecutors say Guevara was thought to be a member of the 18th Street Gang.

According to the Daily Progress, Guevara told a co-worker at the restaurant where he was employed that MS-13 did not make the rules in the United States, a comment seen as disrespectful to the gang, and reported subsequent threats to his employers. One of his colleagues then lured Guevara to his death under the guise of going to meet women.

Guevara was stabbed more than 140 times with knives and a machete, according to the Daily Progress, with one strike so severe that the machete broke. The attackers also drove Guevara’s car to a dead-end road and set it on fire.

Andy Tovar, 31, of White Post is accused in the federal indictment of orchestrating that slaying, as well as an attempted killing at a laundry in Manassas last year. Prosecutors say the attack at the laundry was carried out in part by Kevin Perez Sandoval, 22, of Warrenton. In between, according to the indictment, Roberto Cruz Moreno, 20, also of Warrenton, organized an attack on another man who had tattoos associated with the 18th Street Gang. That victim survived being shot and stabbed.

Tovar also discussed killing a rival gang member who had spoken to federal law enforcement, according to the indictment.

Defense attorneys for all three men declined to comment. If convicted, the defendants each face at least 10 years in prison.

Guanacos Lil Cycos Salvatruchas, the clique implicated Tuesday, was also associated with a 2014 killing in New York.

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