Fairfax County police believe the young murder victim whose death sparked a wide-ranging investigation into gang ties -- an investigation that uncovered another teen's murder -- was lured to his death.
The first victim was Christian Sosa Rivas, who was killed in Prince William County in January. A search warrant filed in court revealed that Sosa Rivas had styled himself as a leader of a local clique of the gang MS-13 -- a claim that didn't sit well with other gang leaders.
"Local MS13 clique leaders began contacting the victim and questioning his rank," the search warrant reads.
Police believe those leaders then used the social media accounts “of female associates in an effort to lure out unsuspecting victims” like Sosa Rivas.
According to the search warrant, police believe Sosa Rivas was lured away from his normal surroundings, and murdered.
Police are concerned about a growing gang threat in the greater Washington, D.C. area, including at area schools.
“We are seeing a lot of increase in recruiting in high school and middle schools, which is alarming to us," said Jay Lanham, director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.
Police do not believe random students are being targeted. But, they said, what’s being discussed in schools and online is helping investigators track gang activity.
“We have school resource officers," said Fairfax County Police Sgt. Jonathan Perok. "You’d be surprised how much information is gathered just by having that officer in the school.”
Sosa Rivas' murder has now been tied to the murder of 15-year-old Damaris Alexandra Reyes Rivas. Investigators working on Sosa Rivas' case found Reyes' body last Saturday near Lake Accotink in Springfield; she had been missing for two months.
A total of 10 suspects have been charged in connection with the girl's abduction and death, the majority of the suspects are juveniles. Police believe everyone involved is acquainted or affiliated with one gang, Fairfax County Police 2nd Lt. Brian Gaydos said.
Reyes' family members have identified that gang as MS-13.
Police began to unravel Reyes' murder while attending a multi-jurisdiction briefing Jan. 25 led by Prince George's County Police, said Fairfax Police Chief Edwin Roessler during a press conference Thursday.
During the January event, authorities determined that two missing juveniles from Fairfax County were "indirectly linked by association" to Sosa Rivas' death, Roessler said.