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MS-13 gang leader gets life for murder, beheading of fellow member in Va.

December 17, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
MS-13 gang leader gets life for murder, beheading of fellow member in Va.

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By MATTHEW BARAKAT
ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Gang leader Douglas Cerritos showed no mercy when he ordered a fellow gang member killed and ultimately decapitated for breaking gang rules. On Friday, he received no mercy from a federal judge who sent him to prison to life.

At the time of the murder in March 2014, Douglas Cerritos, now 20, of Falls Church, was a leader in the Park View Locos Salvatruchas in northern Virginia, part of the international MS-13 street gang. A jury convicted him earlier this year of murder in the aid of racketeering for ordering and participating directly in the slaying of Gerson Adoni Martinez Aguiar.

Martinez Aguiar’s murder was “grisly in the extreme,” said prosecutor Julia Martinez at Friday’s sentencing hearing. He was stabbed to death, then decapitated. To fit his body in the shallow grave they had dug for him in suburban Holmes Run Park, they broke his legs.

Cerritos was the last of 13 gang members to be sentenced in connection with this slaying and two others, along with an attempted murder, in 2013 and 2014. Eleven, including Cerritos, received life sentences in federal court in Alexandria.

In Cerritos’ case, federal law required a life sentence. Still, his lawyer, Joseph Conte, argued that Cerritos should have been considered a juvenile because he had turned 18 just one month before the March 2014 slaying.

“But for the space of 31 days, our client would not be in this courtroom” and instead would be prosecuted in state court, maybe even in juvenile court, Conte said.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema was unswayed. She said that even if she weren’t required to impose a life sentence, she likely would have done so anyway.

“This was about as premeditated and as brutal a murder as one could imagine” Brinkema said.

Cerritos did not speak during the hearing.

Cerritos was born in El Salvador and immigrated unlawfully to the U.S. in 2012, according to court records. He dropped out of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax County in late 2013, a few months before the slaying. Prosecutors said Cerritos had actually recruited Martinez Aguiar into the gang and given him the nickname “Lil Guason,” an homage to his own nickname of Guason.

But Cerritos determined that his former protégé had violated gang rules by keeping $600 of the gang’s money and sleeping with another gang member’s girlfriend. In March of 2014, Cerritos and six other MS-13 members lured Martinez Aguiar on the premise that he’d receive a beating for breaking the rules. Instead, they killed him.

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