Two illegal alien teens, who are both MS-13 gang members from El Salvador, have been charged with first-degree murder after Maryland’s Prince George’s County Police found the body of a 14-year-old girl on May 13.
A female has also been charged with first-degree murder, while a fourth suspect is still at large.
The two Salvadorans, Josue Rafael Fuentes-Ponce and Joel Ernesto Escobar, were arrested by local police in May 2018, but, under sanctuary policies, the department failed to turn them over after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged a detainer for them.
At the time, the two suspects were arrested for attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, participation in gang activity, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted robbery, and other related charges, according to ICE in a press release.
“However both were released on an unknown date and time without notification to ICE,” the agency stated.
“These individuals had demonstrated violent criminal behavior before, and because they were released in spite of the lawful detainer, they were afforded an opportunity to take a life,” said ICE’s Baltimore field office Director Diane Witte.
ICE has since lodged another detainer.
Police say the victim was 14-year-old Ariana Fuentes Diaz. She had committed a crime in Washington on April 17 alongside the four murder suspects.
“On April 18, the three suspects, along with a fourth unknown suspect, conspired and agreed that they were going to kill our murder victim out of fear that she was going to go to the police department and talk about the crime they committed in Washington, D.C.,” said Major Brian Riley, commander of the criminal investigation division at the Prince George’s County Police Department, on May 16.
“On April 18, our three suspects and the one unknown suspect drove our murder victim to a wooded area close to the 6300 block of 64th Avenue, at which time the victim was assaulted with a machete and a baseball bat, and she ultimately died from her injuries.”
Riley said the victim had been reported missing from Anne Arundel County, as had the third suspect in custody, 14-year-old Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi.
“This is not two gangs that are warring with each other; this is a gang that turned on itself, or turned on its associate, and extreme violence was used,” Riley said.
The two Salvadorans had arrived across the southwest border separately. Fuentes initially arrived as part of a family unit in Texas on Dec. 23, 2015, according to ICE. The family was paroled into the United States, pending the outcome of the immigration case. On March 16, 2017, an immigration judge ordered Fuentes removed in absentia, yet he remained.
Escobar entered illegally near McAllen, Texas, on Aug. 23, 2016, and was processed as an unaccompanied minor, according to ICE. He was transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and later released to a family member in the Washington area.
Maryland has had a growing problem with MS-13 gang crime.
In late March, six MS-13 members in New York, including two from Maryland, were indicted for allegedly conspiring to murder a fellow gang member who they thought was cooperating with law enforcement.
“Our intelligence shows that their plan was to kill him by shooting him with a firearm they planned on purchasing, butchering him with a machete, or by burning him to death,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a press release.
In 2017, a 19-year-old known MS-13 gang member was charged with the gruesome murder of a man in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Miguel Angel Lopez-Abrego, along with nine other MS-13 members, stabbed the victim more than 100 times, decapitated and dismembered him, and ripped his heart out before throwing him into a grave in Wheaton Regional Park, documents stated.
Many Democrats in the state legislature have pushed for the state to become a sanctuary for illegal aliens by halting the communication and cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The latest round of bills failed, but many counties still refuse to honor ICE detainers and to alert ICE when an illegal alien criminal is being released from jail.