3 charged with conspiring to kidnap slain NJ man

WASHINGTON – Two Montgomery County men and a New Jersey man with ties to the MS-13 gang have been indicted on federal conspiracy charges for luring a 22-year-old man to Maryland so they could kill him.

The body of Jordy Mejia, of New Jersey, was discovered in November in a shallow grave in the Gaithersburg area.

Jose I. Melendez-Rivera, 19, of Montgomery Village; Reynaldo A. Granados-Vasquez, 21, of Gaithersburg; and Neris Moreno-Martinez, 19, of New Jersey; face one count of conspiracy to kidnap. A grand jury in Maryland returned the indictment on Monday.

The three men also face Maryland state charges of first-degree murder and have been in custody since January.

Granados-Vasquez made his initial appearance in federal court on Tuesday. Hearings have not yet been scheduled for Moreno-Martinez or Melendez-Rivera. If convicted, they each face up to a life sentence in prison, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

According to court documents, Moreno-Martinez created a Facebook account with the name Shaila Smith and used the account to communicate with Mejia in October. He and others posed as Shaila Smith and struck up what appeared to be an online romance with Mejia.

They convinced Mejia to travel to Melendez-Rivera’s address to meet the girl, specifying how he should travel there and when.

Once Mejia arrived, the three men snatched him, killed him in a wooded area along Game Preserve Road and then buried him there, court documents said.

His mother reported Mejia missing a few days after he left to meet the girl he thought he’d met on Facebook.

Montgomery County police said previously that the three men, plus two teen girls also charged with murder, are believed to be involved in the MS-13 gang.

Two recent homicides and several disappearances of teen girls in the region have been linked to the gang.

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