2022 | Courts

Four men in MS-13 gang convicted in connection with four killings

In Wheaton fatal stabbing, victim was dismembered, heart removed, authorities say

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Four men in the MS-13 gang were convicted in a federal racketeering conspiracy case connected to the killing of four people, including two involving Montgomery County, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The deaths included brutal acts, authorities said, including one boy who was stabbed more than 100 times in 2017, then dismembered and his heart removed. His body was found buried in Wheaton Regional Park.

Two days later, a man was kidnapped from Silver Spring and taken to Frederick, where he was killed with knives and machetes, then buried in a shallow grave, authorities said.

Four men were found guilty on Monday of racketeering conspiracy and racketeering charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release on Wednesday:

  • Milton Portillo-Rodriguez, 26
  • Juan Carlos Sandoval-Rodriguez, 22
  • Oscar Armando Sorto Romero, 22
  • Jose Joya Parada, 20

Portillo-Rodriguez, Sandoval-Rodriguez and Sorto Romero were also convicted of multiple counts of murder in aid of racketeering.

The four men were members of the Fulton Locos Salvatruchas and Parque Vista cliques of MS-13, and operated mainly in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and Frederick counties, according to the press release.

The four men were accused of drug trafficking, extortion and “brutal acts of violence” against rival gang members to increase MS-13’s power, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Gang members were expected to protect MS-13’s reputation by using “any means necessary,” which included attacking and killing rivals.

Between 2015 and 2017, the Fulton clique carried out violent acts to increase its presence in the area, which included four killings that the men participated in, according to the press release.

The first was on March 31, 2017, when gang members lured a 17-year-old boy from Annapolis to Wheaton Regional Park and stabbed him more than 100 times before dismembering his body and burying it, according to the press release.

The Silver Spring kidnapping was two days later.

The third killing happened on June 24, 2017, when the gang recruited a female “associate” to lure a 21-year-old woman to Anne Arundel County, where she was killed, dismembered and buried, according to the press release.

The fourth killing happened on Aug. 5, 2017, when the gang lured someone to Annapolis and killed him with a hammer and a machete, authorities say.

This case and a related one have led to the convictions of more than 30 people, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Portillo-Rodriguez, Sandoval-Rodriguez and Sorto Romero each face mandatory sentences of life in prison for the murder in aid of racketeering charges, according to the press release. Joya Parada faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy and racketeering charges.

The four men are scheduled to be sentenced individually between April 8 and May 13.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com