Four suspects who were arrested last week in connection to gangland slaying were determined to be illegal immigrants to the United States. Five suspects in all were arrested by Maryland police, suspected of killings at the order of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) criminal organization. MS-13 is an infamous narcoterrorist group that originated in Central America in the 1980s and has since spread to the United States, Mexico, and Spain. The group continues to recruit new members.
Police reports show that three of the five charged are in the U.S. illegally. They are accused of the killing of Jordy Mejia, 22, of New Jersey. Another member of the group arrested has a federal immigration detainer against him, which means that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking to deport him.
The arrests were made in Montgomery County, Maryland. The jurisdiction is a self-designated "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants, which means that local authorities limit their cooperation with federal authorities who are seeking to arrest illegal immigrants. There are a number of such sanctuary cities and jurisdictions throughout the country.
Because of concerns that the five accused may flee the country, a judge ordered them held without bond.
Gang violence connected to MS-13 gang has risen dramatically, not only in the Washington metropolitan area but around the country. It has coincided with the surge of young illegal immigrants crossing the southern border of the United States over the last two years. Many of the members of MS-13 are minors and are accorded more lenient treatment because of their age. Two of the suspects in the above case are teenaged girls. One of them will be tried as an adult.
Here follows a police report on the arrests made:
Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department – Major Crimes Division have arrested three additional suspects for the homicide of Jordy Mejia, age 22, of New Jersey. On November 12, 2016, Mejia’s body was found by hikers in a shallow grave in a wooded area in the 11500 block of Game Preserve Road.
Two suspects, Neris Moreno, age 19, of West New York, New Jersey, and Jackelin Leiba-Esperanza, age 16, of Brentwood, Maryland, were arrested on January 2 in Silver Spring on the strength of Montgomery County arrest warrants. They were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and are being held without bond. Leiba-Esperanza has been charged as an adult.
Three additional suspects, Reynaldo A Granados-Vasquez, age 21, of Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg, Jose Israel Melendez-Rivera, age 18, of Lost Knife Circle in Montgomery Village, and Katerine Solorzano-Aparicio, age 17, of Hyattsville, Maryland, were arrested yesterday in Montgomery County on the strength of arrest warrants. They were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Solorzano-Aparicio has been charged as an adult. The three suspects are being held without bond. Melendez- Rivera and Solorzano-Aparicio were scheduled to have bond review today. Granados-Vasquez is scheduled to have bond review tomorrow.
Investigation by detectives has revealed that on October 15, 2016, the victim, Mejia, told his mother that he was traveling from their home in New Jersey to Maryland to meet a female that he had met on Facebook and would return the next day. On October 18, Mejia’s mother became concerned when the victim did not return home nor had he contacted her. She filed a missing person report with the local police department in New Jersey. Mejia’s mother was able to access her son’s Facebook account and discovered a long conversation between her son and what investigators now know was a fictitious female. Investigation has revealed that several of the suspects communicated with the victim using the fake Facebook account.
This Facebook conversation revealed that the fictitious female lured Mejia to Germantown, saying that she wanted to meet him. Mejia arrived to Montgomery County, where he was killed and buried in a shallow grave.
It is believed that the suspects are associated with the MS-13 gang.
Due to the ongoing homicide investigation, no additional information will be released at this time.
Note: A mugshot of Katerine Solorzano-Aparicio will not be released because she is a juvenile.