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Jury finds MS-13 members guilty for roles in murdering 2 Virginia teens in 2016

Five members of the gang were found guilty in the killings of a 17-year-old boy from Falls Church and a 14-year-old boy from Alexandria.
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Editor's note: The details in this story are graphic. Reader discretion is advised.

Five MS-13 gang members have been convicted by a federal jury for their roles in the kidnapping and murder of two boys from Northern Virginia. Both incidents happened in 2016.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, MS-13 gang members Elmer Zelaya Martinez, Ronald Herrera Contreras, Henry Zelaya Martinez, Pablo Velasco Barrera, and Duglas Ramirez Ferrera, along with their co-conspirators, targeted a 17-year-old Falls Church boy, who they wrongly suspected was a member of a rival gang.

On August 28, 2016, the gang lured the boy to the Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in Fairfax County, saying there was going to be a gang meeting there. Instead, in a wooded area of the park, gang members restrained the boy and killed him, stabbing him more than 100 times with knives, a machete and a pickaxe and buried him in a nearby hole, breaking one of his legs in the process, according to a release from the office of U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber.

Court documents and evidence presented at trial also established that the same gang members, along with co-conspirators, also targeted a 14-year-old boy from Alexandria. The gang members wrongly suspected the boy of being a police informant, the US Attorney's Office said.

On September 26, 2016, the gang told the 14-year-old boy there was a gang meeting he should attend. Court documents say the boy told his mother he was taking out the trash and left his house in his pajamas. He was eventually picked up by members of the gang and driven to the same Fairfax County park where the 17-year-old boy was killed. 

Court documents say the gang members restrained, attacked and killed the 14-year-old boy, filming it with a cell phone to send it to gang leaders in the U.S. and El Salvador in hopes of being promoted.

To date, a total of 17 defendants have been charged in this case. Of those, five defendants went to trial and were convicted of all charges. Nine defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial.

All of those convicted this week face a mandatory life sentence.

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