Three teenagers, including two members of the violent MS-13 gang, are under arrest in Maryland, accused of beating a young girl to death.
Last Wednesday, the body of 14-year-old Ariana Funes-Diaz, of Adelphi, Maryland, was found in Prince George’s County.
The naked, badly beaten body of Funes-Diaz was found in a creek in the 6300 block of 64th Avenue in Riverdale, after local police say they received a tip.
Police later arrested three teens, who they say were friends with the victim. They believe the killing was an attempt to silence the teenager from revealing a crime they had committed.
The teenagers allegedly committed a robbery on April 17, and it is believed Funes-Diaz had a crisis of conscience and was going to go to police to inform them of the crime.
On April 18, the friends then allegedly lured the girl to a wooded area behind an apartment complex, forced her to undress, and then beat her to death with at least one baseball bat. They then dumped her body in a nearby creek.
Authorities arrested Josue Fuentes-Ponce, 16, Joel Escobar, 17, and Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi, 14, soon after the body was discovered.
Funes-Diaz and Hernandez-Nucamendi were reported missing from their homes earlier in April, and it is believed they ran away.
Police say the two male suspects, Fuentes-Ponce, of Bladensburg, and Escobar, of Northeast D.C., are members of the MS-13 gang.
The three teenagers were charged after their arrest with first-degree murder and related charges. Escobar and Hernandez-Nucamendi are in the custody of the Department of Corrections on a no-bond status. Ponce is in custody at the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center.
A fourth teenager is also under arrest, but had not been identified. Their role in the crime has not been revealed.
MS-13 originated in the late 1970s in Los Angeles, and initially was formed to protect Salvadoran immigrants from other gangs in the Los Angeles area. Since then, however, MS-13 has become a major criminal organization, operating in most major American cities. Federal authorities estimate there are over 10,000 MS-13 members operating in the United States, mostly foreign nationals from El Salvador and neighboring countries. Their motto is “rape, control, kill.”
Here is video from NBC Washington on the arrests.
This report was filed in the early hours of the investigation.
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