Seven people have been charged in the brutal slaying of a 21-year-old man outside his apartment in Baltimore County, Maryland, in July.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, six of those seven individuals have been identified as illegal immigrant members of the notoriously violent MS-13 street gang, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Daniel Alejandro Alvarado Cuellar was stalked and followed home from a laundromat by his attackers, who jumped him and stabbed him repeatedly, the report said.
Cuellar’s body was found July 31 in the grass outside his Towson apartment.
“Detectives from the Baltimore County Police Homicide Unit determined that Cuellar was the intended victim of a planned murder involving the seven suspects,” Baltimore County officials wrote in a news release Tuesday.
“The motive for this homicide remains under investigation,” it said.
Detectives later told The Sun, however, that initial investigative efforts turned up pictures of Cuellar making hand gestures common among members of the rival 18th Street gang.
Authorities now believe the murder was gang-related.
According to the Baltimore County news release, the alleged killers have been identified as Jonathan Escobar-Hernandez, 20; Marlon Leonardo Fabian-Flores, 20; Edwin Edgardo Garcia-Martir, 18; Hugo Portillo-Chavez, 31; Jose Fausto Rivera-Coreas, 19; and Odaliz Rosas-Yanez, 20.
Also charged is 16-year-old Leonel Alexander Velasquez-Hernadez, who can be seen smiling in his mugshot. He has been charged as an adult.
All seven suspects are being held without bail at Baltimore County Detention Center on first-degree murder charges, and ICE has lodged an immigration detainer with local authorities for the six allegedly residing in the U.S. illegally.
It has not yet been released to the public which of the suspects are here illegally, but authorities have indicated that five of the illegal immigrants are from El Salvador and one is from Mexico.
Fox News reported all seven suspects face the possibility of life behind bars in Cuellar’s murder, but it will be up to ICE whether the six illegal immigrants charged are brought to court or removed from the country.
This is not the first time illegal migrants reportedly affiliated with the Latin street gang have been apprehended in relation to stomach-turning slayings in Maryland and elsewhere.
MS-13 has long been the subject of President Donald Trump‘s rhetoric regarding the violence that comes along with illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Earlier this July, authorities in Los Angeles charged 22 alleged MS-13 gang members with at least seven gruesome “medieval-style” murders in the city.
In March, five of the gang’s members were arrested after allegedly stabbing a 16-year-old boy upwards of 100 times and lighting him on fire in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Amid a handful of such murders nationwide, the president addressed the issue earlier this year, referring to MS-13 members as “animals” — and catching no small amount of flak from Democrats for it.
“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before,” Trump said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized his comments, saying, “When the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘These aren’t people, these are animals’ — you have to wonder, does he not believe in the spark of divinity, the dignity and worth of every person?”
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