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11 MS-13 Members Charged in Kidnappings, Deaths of Teens

Eleven MS-13 gang members have been charged in connection with the kidnappings and deaths of two teenage boys whose bodies were found in a Fairfax County park last year, prosecutors say. 

The bodies of Edvin Escobar Mendez, 17, of Falls Church, and Sergio Arita Triminio, 14, of Alexandria, were found in Holmes Run Park on March 3, 2017 after police received a tip. The chilling discovery came during a surge in gang homicides.

Prosecutors say the following men have been charged:

  • Elmer Zelaya Martinez, aka Killer, 27. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Erick Palacios Ruiz aka Cara de Malo, 20. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Ronald Herrera Contreras, aka Speedy, 20. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Josue Vigil Mejia, aka Horror, 21. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Henry Zelaya Martinez, aka Certero, 24. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Oscar Contreras Aguilar, aka Atrevido, 20. Charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to kidnap
  • Yonathan Melgar Martinez, aka Oso, 21. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Pablo Miguel Barrera Velasco, aka Oscuro, 20. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Anderson Villatoro, aka Enterrado, 21. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Francisco Avila Avalos, aka Picador, 20. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap
  • Fredys Baires Abarca, aka Lil Clandestino, 20. Charged with conspiracy to kidnap. 

El Salvador is listed as the country of origin for all 11 suspects. Ten of the men are in custody; police believe one of the men fled the country. Ten of the men are undocumented, and one has a green card. 

Prosecutors said Friday that a superseding indictment is expected, so more charges are likely.

Mendez and Triminio disappeared just weeks apart. Mendez disappeared in late August 2016 and his family reported him missing Sept. 1, 2016.

Later in September, Facebook information led his brother to track down a friend -- Sergio Triminio. Triminio gave him bad news, saying Mendez had been "abducted or killed" because MS-13 members thought he was a spy for a rival gang.

Two days later, on Sept. 27, Triminio disappeared. His worried mother contacted police to report him missing.

Triminio lived in an apartment not far from Holmes Run Park. Sergio's mother, Karla Triminio, told News4 that one night in September he walked to a dumpster outside their apartment to throw out the trash.

"He never came back," she said. 

In December, a reliable source told detectives both teens had been killed and buried by MS-13 members. Investigators believe Triminio was killed because the gang members thought he had been cooperating with law enforcement, according to a federal indictment. 

Detectives received a tip about the bodies buried in Holmes Run Park in late February, according to court documents. Police started searching there in March. Both bodies were found buried about 300 yards into the park.

According to court documents, Triminio was on probation and wearing a court-ordered electronic monitoring device when he disappeared. It stopped connecting the day he disappeared, police say.

If convicted, each of the suspects is facing a maximum of life in prison. 

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