By Chris Teale (File photo)
Two city residents and members of the notorious Salvadorian gang MS-13 will spend the rest of their lives in prison after being convicted for their roles in a 2014 Arlandria homicide.
Jesus Alejandro Chavez, 26, of Alexandria, was sentenced to two life terms plus 10 years August 10 after he was convicted of murder in aid of racketeering; use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Jose Del Cid, 20, of Alexandria, was convicted in May on two counts of murder in the aid of racketeering and received two life sentences.
The pair were charged in the murder of Julio Urrutia- Erazo on the 3800 block of Russell Road late June 19, 2014, aided by Genaro Sen Garcia, 21, of an unknown location. A total of 13 defendants were charged in a federal case involving two murders and one attempted murder across Northern Virginia.
“The defendants terrorized our local communities with senseless, depraved acts of threats, intimidation and violence,” said Paul Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, in a statement when Del Cid was sentenced. “They murdered in the name of MS-13, but as this jury’s verdict makes clear, no gang can protect them from facing justice for their crimes. This verdict sends a clear message that the FBI will hold violent gangs and murderers fully accountable for their actions.”
According to an affidavit filed in federal court in 2014, Chavez, Del Cid and Garcia were walking in a group of at least six people late on June 19 that year when they crossed paths with Urrutia-Erazo. The men bragged to him about their gang affiliation.
Although they initially walked away, the men turned around and confronted the victim a second time, at which point one man tried to punch Urrutia-Erazo, allegedly because he told the group “that he wasn’t in a gang and they should respect him and his friends.”
According to the affidavit, Chavez then pulled out a Glock handgun and shot Urrutia, who died from his injuries two days later. Three different witnesses identified Chavez as the shooter using photo lineups, the document said, and investigators confirmed Chavez’s presence in the area by analyzing calls from his cell phone and cell tower data.
“Extreme violence is the hallmark of MS-13, and these horrific crimes represent ex- actly what the gang stands for,” said Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in a statement. “This was a highly complicated, death penalty-eligible case with 13 defendants and more than two dozen defense attorneys. To say I am proud of our trial team and investigative partners is an understatement. I want to thank them for their terrific work on this case and for bringing these criminals to justice.”
Defendants also were charged and convicted for their parts in a 2013 homicide in Holmes Run Park in Falls Church and
an attempted murder at Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge that same year. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington field office, the Fairfax County Police Department’s gang investigations unit, the Prince William County Police Department and the Alexandria Police Department.
When the indictments of Chavez and Del Cid were announced in 2014, Alexandria police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said the department did not think of Urrtia-Erazo’s slaying as an incident of gang violence.
“The suspects are clearly related to gangs and to violent behavior, but I don’t believe anything points to something other than just the suspects in the crime being gang-related,” she said at the time. “Nothing about the interaction had anything to do with gangs. The suspects are clearly linked to a gang, and it is openly known that the gang is violent, but it doesn’t appear to be any kind of gang-on-gang action.”
The Arlandria neighborhood — and the city in general — had appeared to turn a corner after struggling for years with gang violence. But two of the city’s four homicides last year were carried out by gang members: the slayings in Beverley and Four Mile Run parks late last year of Jose Luis Ferman Perez and Eduardo David Chandias Almendarez, respectively. Three people were indicted in connection with Perez’s death and two for Almendarez’s death.
While police said the latter slaying was gang-motivated, meaning it was carried out in the furtherance of gang activities, the former was gang-related, meaning only that it was committed by gang members.
Police Chief Earl Cook has said previously that between 150 and 200 gang members live in Alexandria, including those who belong to the infamous California-based Bloods and Crips as well as MS-13.
“What we have seen is that there’s been a constant residency of gang members living in Alexandria that has never changed,” Cook said at a city council meeting last year. “It has been more or less depending on what part of the decade you’re talking about.
“Currently, it’s a bit of a guess because most gang members don’t identify themselves in terms of residency, and unless they break one of our laws or come into contact with us in some other way and [we] get that intelligence or knowledge, we don’t know they’re there.”