Prosecutors Outline Motive in MS-13 Gang Killing Trial

Opening statements into the trial of five young men belonging to the MS-13 gang for the alleged killing of a Leesburg, Virginia, teen outlined a plot to kill to move up in the gang.

Carlos Otero Henriquez, 18, of Leesburg, went missing in May 2016. His body was later found near a West Virginia quarry.

Prosecutors said Henriquez was lured with the promise of a party by members of the MS-13 gang. They said he was targeted, because a Facebook post showed him flashing signs of a rival gang.

The jury heard prosecutors describe the attack on Henriquez, where the accused allegedly stabbed him 50 times, burned his clothes, and threw him into a ditch. The lead prosecutor said the young men on trial wanted to move up in the gang, and attacking and killing rival gang members was a way to do that.

Authorities were able to arrest several members of the gang when they drove back to a house that police had under surveillance, catching the defendants returning to the home and later washing out the SUV they allegedly used in the crime.

Defense attorneys said it was the gang leaders who ordered the killing of Henriquez. They said it was the leaders who started stabbing the victim and passed the knife to lower level members and ordered them to take part.

Those gang leaders have already pleaded guilty and are expended to testify in this trial.

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