WASHINGTON - Local police departments are concerned about a spike in homicides in our area linked to the notorious and dangerous MS-13 gang.
At least seven recent murders in the region have confirmed ties to MS-13, and there are two other cases with possible links to the gang known for its brutality.
A police source explained to FOX 5’s Alexandra Limon that it is hard to connect crimes to MS-13 because of how the gang is structured, but they can confirm there is a definite uptick.
“The spike, if you would call it, occurred at the end of the year. So there were a number of cases right at the end of 2015, and that's concerning because you don’t want to see that carry over into 2016,” said Capt. Darren Francke of the Montgomery County Police Department.
Three of the confirmed homicides happened in Montgomery County and a fourth is still under investigation.
In the most recent Montgomery County case, 18-year-old Denis Bautista was reported missing before his body was found. According to court documents, two members of the Park View Locos Salvatruches clique of MS-13 were arrested for the violent killing.
“They had stabbed him and he had crawled into a creek and then they continued their assault on him and they stoned him,” Francke said.
In Fairfax County, police said they had three MS-13 related murders in 2015, including one in Falls Church and one in Annandale. And last March, a man was brutally killed in Herndon Park with knives and a machete.
The eighth case with MS-13 ties happened in Sterling. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said the victim and the three suspects were illegal immigrants.
And then there’s the New Year’s Day murder in Prince George’s County. The mother of a 20-year-old woman whose body was found on the Northwest Branch Trail fears her daughter’s death is related to MS-13.
In fact, throughout the park there is graffiti and tagging related to the gang. Police cannot confirm the case is tied to the gang, but they say they have strong leads in the case.
Investigators tell FOX 5 that gang members in our area are getting orders directly from MS-13 leaders in El Salvador about recruiting and increasing the gang’s influence in the United States.