A member of the MS-13 gang testified on Thursday that he and a group of men lured an 18-year-old to his death, shedding light on the crime and offering a revealing look into how the brutal gang operates in the D.C. area.
Carlos Otero-Henriquez was reported missing from his home in Leesburg, Virginia, on May 23, 2016. Eleven days later, the young man's body was found in an open field in Jefferson County, West Virginia, about 25 miles away. He had been stabbed 50 times.
On Thursday, MS-13 member Miguel Gomez testified about the crime in chilling detail in federal court in Alexandria. Clearly uncomfortable in his role as a witness for the prosecution, Gomez sunk low in the witness stand and often hung his head.
But he delivered for prosecutors. One by one, he identified his fellow gang members.
Gomez said that on the night of Saturday, May 21, 2016, the gang members lured Otero-Henriquez by telling him they were going to a party.
Instead, they drove him to a quarry near Harpers Ferry and circled him. They believed he was a member of the rival 18th Street Gang.
The leader, nicknamed Demon, gave the coded command to the group to "light the cigar," Gomez said.
The attack began.
"I took the knife and stabbed him three times," Gomez said.
Then, Demon told Gomez to pass around the knife, Gomez testified.
Four of the men took turns stabbing Otero-Henriquez a total of 50 times.
Then, they dumped his body in a ravine.
The men drove to a house in Leesburg, where they showered and burned their clothes in the fireplace.
Once the gang members cleaned up, they held a meeting, Gomez testified.
"He asked us one by one how we felt," he said Demon asked.
"What did you say?" a prosecutor asked Gomez.
"We felt good," he replied.
Demon had an instruction for each member of the group: Each man should kill three more rival gang members in the next three months, so they could move up in rank to homeboy," Gomez said.
On the street, Gomez' cooperation with law enforcement would mark him for death. Behind bars, he hopes it will bring a reduction to his life sentence.