Four Prince William County men killed by gunfire in 2019 were the random victims of a local “clique” of the criminal street gang Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, who carried out the fatal shootings “to further their standing” within the gang, according to police.

In a Tuesday morning press conference, Acting Prince William County Police Chief Jarad Phelps announced the arrests of 12 people -- including two from Woodbridge, one from Manassas and one from Dumfries -- in connection with the 2019 fatal shootings of Milton Beltran Lopez, 40; Jairo Geremeas Mayorga, 39; Eric Lanier Tate II, 25; and Antonio Kaoul Smith, 37.

All four were shot and killed in Woodbridge in residential areas east of U.S. 1. 

On June 22, 2019, police found the bodies of the first two victims – Lopez and Mayorga – in a wooded area near the intersection of Featherstone and Blackburn roads in Woodbridge.

Molina Rodriguez, Abner Jose.jpg  Abner Jose Molina Rodriguez

 Abner Jose Molina Rodriguez

Guevara Rivera, Mario Antonio.jpg

Mario Antonio Guevera Rivera

Arevalo Arias, Christian.jpg Christian Arevalo Arias

Christian Arevalo Arias

Canales Saldana, Melvin.jpg Melvin Canales Saldana

Melvin Canales Saldana

Andrade Rivas, Manilester.jpg Manilester Andrade Rivas

Manilester Andrade Rivas

Vasquez Reyes, Juan.jpg Juan Vasquez Reyes

Juan Vasquez Reyes

Guzman, Keyly Yamileth.jpg Keyly Yamileth Guzman

Keyly Yamileth Guzman

One suspect, Abner Jose Molina Rodriguez, 23, of no fixed address, was previously identified and charged in November 2019 with second-degree murder in connection with Lopez’s and Mayorga’s deaths.

On Aug. 29, 2019, Tate was found fatally shot in the area of Bel Air and Jeffries roads, also in Woodbridge, and on Sept. 24, 2019, Smith was found dead on the 3100 block of Chesapeake Drive in Dumfries. 

A subsequent joint investigation involved “hundreds of law enforcement officers” with the Prince William County Police Department, the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force and the FBI, and resulted in the arrests of the 12 people in connection with the homicides and four others on related drug trafficking charges, Phelps said.

Of the 16 suspects, 14 are in custody and two are still wanted for arrest, police said.  

All suspects were members of, or are otherwise connected to, the “Sitios Locos Salvatruchas” clique of MS-13, Phelps said.

“All four of these [victims] had no connection [to the gang] that we know of,” Phelps said Tuesday, noting that both Tate and Smith were believed to have been “just walking down the street” when they were gunned down.

“Through the tremendous collaboration not only with our officers in the police department but also our regional partners… the FBI, the ATF, our commonwealth attorney’s office… hundreds of officers were involved in building a case against 12 individuals who were ultimately arrested… who are responsible for these heinous crimes,” Phelps said.

The investigation, which lasted several months, revealed the gang members were part of a narcotics trafficking ring that involved cocaine being transported from the New York area to Prince William County where it was then sold during street-level transactions, 1st Sgt. Jonathan Perok said in a police press release. 

“The suspects used this trafficking as a primary source of income for their clique,” Perok added. “To further the suspects’ standing within MS-13 itself, victims were targeted at random and murdered, posing a significant safety concern in this community.”

Of the 12 suspects charged in connection with the homicides, four were already incarcerated and were served with additional charges. Three suspects were located locally and two were located in New York, the press release said.

One suspect remains wanted and is believed to be in El Salvador, police said.

Those charged in in connection to the homicides include:

  • Abner Jose Molina Rodriguez, 23, of no fixed address, who was already incarcerated. Rodriguez was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with the deaths of all four men. (Rodriguez was previously charged in November 2019 with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with Lopez’s and Mayorga’s deaths.) 
  • Mario Antonio Guevera Rivera, 25, of Woodbridge, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, one count of principal second-degree murder, four counts of conspiracy to commit murder, three counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and various other charges in connection with the deaths of all four men.
  • Cristian Ariel Arevalo Arias, 24, of no fixed address, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of conspiracy to commit murder and three counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony as well as other charges in connection with the deaths of Lopez, Mayorga and Tate. 
  • Carlos Jose Turcios Villatoro, of no fixed address, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony and other charges in connection with the deaths of Lopez, Mayorga and Tate.
  • Melvin Canales Saldana, 27, of no fixed address, was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit murder and other charges in connection with the deaths of Tate and Smith.
  • Marvin Menjivar Gutierrez, 28, of New York, was charged with one count of principal second-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder and other charges in connection with the deaths of Lopez and Mayorga. 
  • Jairo Gustavo Aguilera Sagistizado, 25, of New York, was charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with Smith’s death.
  • Manilester Andrade Rivas, 31, of Woodbridge, was charged with one count of second-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of use of a firearm in commission of a felony and other charges in connection with Tate’s death. 
  • Keyly Yamileth Guzman, 25, of Stafford, was charged with one count of accessory after the fact, one count of concealing and compounding offenses and other charges in connection with Smith’s death. 
  • Gerardo Reyes Serrano Molina, 25, of Dumfries, was charged in May 2020 with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Lopez’s and Mayorga’s deaths.
  • Juan Manuel Vasquez Reyes, 38, of Manassas, was charged in February 2020 with concealing & compounding offenses in connection with Lopez’s and Mayorga’s deaths.

One suspect, Wilmer Candelar Cabrera Rivera, 32, of El Salvador, remains wanted on charges of second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with Tate’s death.

Police arrested three people – including two from Woodbridge and one from Manassas – and are still looking for a fourth on drug and gang charges in connection with the investigation but not related to the homicides.

Williams, Nathanlie Marie.jpg

 Nathanlie Marie Williams

Those arrested included: Karen Estefan Figueroa Alfaro, 28, of Woodbridge; Walter Jeovanny Rubio Lemus, 26, of Woodbridge; and Nathanlie Marie Williams, 24, of Manassas.

Police have charged Juan Carlos Hernandez Lanaverde, 21, of Annandale, on drug and gang charges in connection with the investigation but have not yet taken him into custody.

Most of the suspects arrested in connection with the homicides are being held without bond at the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center, Perok said. 

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(2) comments

Omarndc72

Keep ice active. Deport deport 24/7

Mrs. Silence Dogood

Thank you PW County Police for your hard work, trying to keep our communities safe. We will vote for good leaders that will support good policing. God bless you and keep you - You are prayed for in this house.

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