Suspect Arrested in Alleged MS-13 Murder in Maryland

Police have released some new information on the gang-related murder of a man in Wheaton, Maryland. According to authorities, as many as 10 members of the MS-13 street gang lured a man to a park and brutally murdered him in the spring of 2017. Who are MS-13? Why are they so feared, and what exactly happened in that park? This is a brief look at one of the most ruthless gangs in the world.

Who Are MS-13?

MS-13 is a gang that was founded by immigrants from El Salvador. Originally based out of Los Angeles, the gang has spread all over North America with chapters in Maryland, Toronto, New York, New Jersey, and many other cities.

Originally, the gang was formed to protect Salvadoran immigrants from more established gangs in the Los Angeles area. When gang members were caught doing illegal activities, they were deported.

These deportations are actually credited for increasing MS-13’s membership in the U.S. and Latin America. Members who were deported found new recruits in their native countries, and sometimes they returned to the U.S. with these recruits.

MS-13 is known for their brutality. The “13” in their name stands for the number of seconds that an initiate is beaten before he is admitted into the gang. For a time, the weapon of choice of MS-13 gang members was a machete.

The Maryland Attack

Due to informant information, police in Wheaton found a body in a grave in the woods of Wheaton Regional Park on September 5, 2017. The victim had been stabbed over a hundred times, his heart had been carved out, and he had been decapitated. At the time of this writing, the victim had yet to be identified.

Police have compiled a list of suspects, and at the top of that list is Miguel A. Lopez-Abrego, a 19-year-old member of MS-13.  Police are alleging that Lopez-Abrego helped dig the grave in the woods, alerted the other suspects to the victim’s arrival via walkie-talkie, and was the first to stab the victim in the chest.

Lopez-Abrego has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

The victim was Hispanic, stood about five-foot-two, and weighed 126 pounds. He had short, dark-brown hair and was wearing a rosary, a gray sweatshirt with “First United Methodist Church Laurel” written on the upper-left side, and blue shorts.

Anyone with information regarding the murder or the victim is asked to contact the police at (240) 773-5070. If you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).