The federal death penalty may be sought against members of a violent Northern Virginia street gang who lured a 17-year-old pregnant witness to the Shenandoah River on the pretense of taking her fishing, but then stabbed her repeatedly and told her they were killing her because she had cooperated with law enforcement, says the Washington Post. Officials said the plot was masterminded from a jail cell where one gang member was awaiting trial on murder charges.
Four members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday in the death of Brenda Paz, another gang member who left the federal witness protection program last June, about a month before her tattoo-covered body was found on the banks of the river. Paz had cooperated with detectives in at least six states against MS-13 and was scheduled to be a witness in a federal murder case in Alexandria. One of the men later convicted in that slaying, Denis Rivera, 20, was charged with orchestrating Paz’s slaying from jail. The others three men charged wielded the knives that killed Paz, prosecutors said. Told of Paz’s stabbing Rivera allegedly said the lesson for gang members or anyone else is that, “They rat and that’s it.”