Six members of the MS-13 street gang have been convicted for their roles in three murders and an attempted murder in northern Virginia.
The jury convictions Monday in federal court in Alexandria follow a weeks-long trial. All six face mandatory life sentences.
Six other defendants had already pleaded guilty. The gang members ranged in age from 18 to 31, and most were residents of northern Virginia, including Falls Church and Alexandria.
In one of the murders, the defendants lured a fellow gang member to Holmes Run Park in Falls Church in 2013 and killed him with a machete, believing he was a snitch.
In another murder a few months later, a gang recruit who violated MS-13 rules was stabbed, beheaded and buried in a shallow grave in the same Falls Church park.
Police prevented another 2013 murder at a Virginia high school and charged several gang members, prosecutors said.
One MS-13 member warned police of the murder plot and helped police arrest the perpetrators, prosecuters said. That gang member recorded phone calls between several MS-13 members and Pedro Anthony Romero Cruz, who was planning the murder from prison using a contraband cell phone. The informant also wore a wire when the murder was being planned -- and as the gang members drove to Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge, Virginia to commit the murder.
Police had warned the victim to stay away from the school, and police had the gang members’ car under surveillance the night of the attempted murder, prosecutors said. Three gang members were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and one was charged with attempted murder.
"The defendants terrorized our local communities with senseless, depraved acts of threats, intimidation and violence," said Paul M. Abbate, assistant director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office in a release. "They murdered in the name of MS-13, but as this jury’s verdict makes clear, no gang can protect them from facing justice for their crimes."