GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Montgomery County police are still looking for two men they say they believe are tied to the county’s 10th gang-related killing in 10 months.
At a news conference at police headquarters, Montgomery County Police Capt. Darren Francke identified two men as suspects and described them as armed and dangerous. Jose Corea Ventura, 20, and Oscar Ernesto Delgado-Perez, 27, last known to be in Wheaton, Maryland, are believed to have left the area, according to Francke.
“We have some information that they were hanging their hats in the Wheaton area,” said Francke, adding that they’ve been hard to pin down.
Complicating the matter is that the two men have used aliases in the past, said Francke.
Police say they believe the pair — along with two other people already in custody — was involved in the brutal murder of 18-year-old Cristian Antonio Villagran-Morales, a New Jersey man who was in Maryland picking up work as a landscaper. Police stress that Villagran-Morales was not a gang member.
“He was a hardworking guy,” Francke said of Villagran-Morales.
So how did he end up stabbed to death in Gaithersburg’s Martin King Park on June 16? Francke said he was lured to the park by 19-year-old Vanesa Alvarado of Gaithersburg. Police say the two had been texting and she directed him to the park that day.
Montgomery County Police Detective Dimitry Ruvin said Alvarado was a “known associate of MS-13,” a notoriously violent gang based in El Salvador. He said Alvarado defies the profile of the young undocumented unaccompanied minors that are often so vulnerable to recruitment by MS-13 when they arrive in the area, broke and alone.
“I don’t know how she got connected with that gang, but she had every opportunity to have a normal life here,” Ruvin said.
Does he believe she knew that Villagran-Morales was to be murdered when they met up July 16? “Absolutely,” said Ruvin.
Ruvin said the reason for the killing is likely tied to boosting the status of MS-13 as a gang to be feared.
“Basically they’re doing it to further their gang activities — later they can claim he was a rival gang member — and he wasn’t,” he said.
Also arrested in the case is 16-year-old Juan Gutierrez Vasquez of Gaithersburg who is being charged as an adult.