NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A total of six arrests have been made in connection to the death of a man whose body washed up on the banks of the Potomac River last month. Police say 21-year-old Christian Alexander Sosa Rivas was murdered, and his death is part of what they believe is a string of gang-related incidents. Sosa Rosa's body was found January 13 in the water along the 1500 block of Cherry Hill Road in Dumfries.
Police announced Thursday that 24-year-old Edgar Oswaldo Blanco Torres, 20-year-old Jose Larios Espenal, and a 17-year-old male juvenile all face murder charges in connection to Sosa Rosa's death. The arrest of the fourth suspect, 18-year-old Samuel Enrique Villalabos Sanchez, was announced late Thursday afternoon. All four of those arrests were made in the Newtown Township area of Pennsylvania.
Investigators believe many of the six newly-arrested suspects have connections to the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13.
Prince William County police say the murder may be the result of an internal power struggle within MS-13. It appears likely Sosa Rivas claimed a role in the gang that wasn’t his. They say their murder investigation indicates gang members weren’t happy that Sosa Rivas claimed to be the leader of MS-13 in that area, but police also indicate there could be other factors in his murder.
David Wright works just yards away from where Sosa Rivas’ body was found. He says he spoke with investigators on the scene that day.
“They just said he had a lot of tattoos and he was cut up pretty bad, and maybe a bullet in the head or something like that and a lot of trauma to the body,” Wright told FOX 5.
Along with the arrests, police also revealed Thursday how Sosa Rivas died. They say he was lured to the area where he was found dead in Dumfries.
Two others face charges for conspiracy to commit murder. Angelica Blanco, 19, and Keyri Portillo Gonzalez, 18, were arrested on February 12 in Baltimore. Prince William County police say the two women were identified quickly as co-conspirators in the case.
Those two arrests took place just one day after the body of 15-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas was discovered by Fairfax County police in Springfield, Va. Prince William County police confirm both cases are linked to MS-13. Earlier this month, a total of 10 people were charged in connection with the gang murder of Reyes Rivas – who is not related to Sosa Rivas.
“It’s undeniable to say they’re present here,” said Sgt. Jonathan Perok. “As far as a threat to the public? I mean, these are all internal or gang-to-gang issues.”
Court documents in the murder investigation in Prince William County are sealed, so it’s likely that when the case goes to court, more will be revealed about the murder and how it’s linked to the Reyes Rivas case.
Below is a timeline of events in the string of recent incidents in the area, which police say are all connected:
December 10: Damaris Reyes Rivas went missing
January 12: Christian Sosa Rivas' body washes up on the banks of the Potomac River
January 14: A second teen, Lizzy Rivera Colindres, and her baby went missing
January 15: A third teen, Venus Iraheta, went missing
February 11: Damaris Reyes Rivas' remains were found in an industrial park in Springfield, Va.
February 11: Lizzy Rivera Colindras and her baby returned home. It was determined she left against her will
February 14: Venus Iraheta returned home. She was charged in connection to the death of Demaris Reyes Rivas.