Police say a 19-year-old gang member stabbed a man, cut out his heart and buried him in a Maryland park.
Miguel Angel Lopez-Abrego was arrested and charged in the murder of the unidentified man, who was found decapitated and buried with his own heart at Wheaton Regional Park in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Lopez-Abrego, known by the name “Timido,” has been charged with first-degree murder and has been extradited to Montgomery County. He had a bond review Wednesday in Rockville District Court.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. An Informant Brought Investigators to the Victim’s Body
According to the arrest warrant, an informant, who was a member of MS-13, said that he and at least nine other gang members participated in the murder of a man. He brought them to the gravesite in a wooded area of the park on September 5, documents say, and further told them the details of the murder of the unidentified man.
The body was exhumed from the shallowly-dug grave and was observed to have suffered over 100 stab wounds, decapitation, dismemberment and had his heart pulled from his chest and buried alongside him.
The informant mentioned that Lopez-Abrego was the first one to see the suspect and the first one to stab him.
2. Police Say Lopez-Abrego Waited for the Victim at the Park & Stabbed Him With a 15-Inch Knife
The informant told investigators that he and at least nine other members of MS-13 were attempting to lure the victim to the Annapolis area. They had planned to kill him and bury his body in the wooden area of the part, the informant said.
One of the people the informant told officers took part in the murder was known as “Timido,” or Lopez-Abrego. The informant said that Lopez-Abrego helped dig a hole in the park, where the body would be buried. On the night when the victim arrived at the park, the informant said Lopez-Abrego waited at the edge of the woods with a walkie-talkie and a 15-inch knife. As the victim arrived, the informant said that Lopez-Abrego made contact with him, stabbing him through the chest with the knife.
3. Lopez-Abrego Was Arrested in North Carolina With 2 Other MS-13 Members
On September 29, Lopez-Abrego was pulled over by Montgomery County Police officers when he was a passenger inside a vehicle being driven by another MS-13 member wanted for murder charges in Ann Arundel County. Lopez-Abrego was taken in for questioning and was asked about the murder of the victim found in the park. He denied any involvement in the incident and was let go.
Investigators wanted him in for questioning at a later date, but efforts to find him were unsuccessful. Authorities noted in the arrest warrant that his whereabouts were “unknown until November 4.”
On that date, Lopez-Abrego was found in North Carolina with two other MS-13 members who lived in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. Both of them were wanted on murder arrest warrants.
4. The Victim Is Believed to Be of Hispanic Descent
The stabbing incident is said to have happened sometime between December 2016 and March 2017, police told WJLA-TV. Police say he was possibly from Annapolis and has been described as a Hispanic male standing about 5-foot-2 and weighing around 126 pounds. Investigators believe the victim had short brown hair and a missing lower tooth.
Officials say the unidentified victim was wearing a gray sweatshirt with the words, “First United Methodist Church Laurel” written on the chest. He was also wearing a rosary necklace at the time of his death, according to police.
Anyone with information regarding the case has been asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070. Or you can contact the Crime Solvers of Motgomery County at 1-666-411-TIPS (8477).
5. Federal Agencies Have Cracked Down on MS-13 in Recent Months
As part of a national effort targeting members of MS-13, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that 38 people had been arrested within the past month in Maryland and Northern Virginia.
Officials say that three alleged gang members were arrested in Virginia on immigration violations while the other 35 were taken into custody. In fall 2016, four MS-13 gang members from Annapolis were accused of attempted murder in an effort to join the gang or maintain their status in the gang.
The arrests were part of “Operation Raging Bull,” a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Justice and Homeland Secutiry. From October 8-November 11, 214 people believed to be members of the violent gang were arrested.
“We will not rest until every member, associate and leader of MS-13 has been held accountable for their crimes,” Director of ICE Thomas Horman said during a July 27 White House press briefing.
Since he took office, President Donald Trump has made it a priority to direct federal officials to put additional resources toward efforts to take down gangs.
On July 28, Trump said during a speech in front of law enforcement officials: “We’re going to destroy” MS-13.
“They kidnap. They extort. They rape and they rob,” Trump said during his speech at Suffolk County Community College. “They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs, they slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They’re animals.”