County Man Receives 20-Year Sentence for Role in Gang-related Murder
Rival was lured to Gaithersburg, killed and buried in shallow grave
Jose Israel Melendez-Rivera was sentenced to conspiracy to kidnap in connection with a 2016 murder in Gaithersburg.
A Montgomery County man was sentenced Monday to 20 years in federal prison for conspiring to kidnap and murder a man he thought was in a rival gang, federal prosecutors announced.
Jose Israel Melendez-Rivera, 21, of Gaithersburg, was sentenced to conspiracy to kidnap in connection with the murder of Jordy Mejia.
Melendez-Rivera admitted to his involvement in an October 2016 plot to lure Mejia to Maryland and kill him so co-defendant Neris Moreno-Martinez, 22, could rise up the ranks within the MS-13 gang.
Moreno-Martinez wanted to achieve the rank of “chequeo,” which requires participating in a murder, but believed there weren’t enough secluded areas near his New Jersey home to dispose of a body, prosecutors said. He created a fake social media account and expressed romantic interest in Mejia, drawing him to Melendez-Rivera’s Gaithersburg residence.
Melendez-Rivera picked up Mejia from his apartment and brought him to a wooded area where Moreno-Martinez and co-defendant Reynaldo Alexis Granados-Vasquez, 23, of Gaithersburg, waited, prosecutors said.
When they arrived, Melendez-Rivera and Moreno-Martinez drowned Mejia in a small stream, prosecutors said. The three men carried the body to a shallow grave took turns stabbing the corpse with machetes.
Melendez-Rivera illegally entered the United States in 2014 from El Salvador, prosecutors said.
Moreno-Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced June 25 and Granados-Vasquez, who pleaded guilty in the kidnapping case, is set to be sentenced next month.
Charlie Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org