MS-13 member’s trail shows gang’s movement
That’s how long Antonio Neftali Urrutia-Barrera, 20, of Reston, will spend in federal prison after being sentenced March 19 for two of the many crimes he either committed or is accused of committing in late summer and early fall 2008.
One of those crimes was a triple shooting in Sterling Park that left a Loudoun resident paralyzed from the waist down.
During a period of a little more than two months, Urrutia-Barrera—who is in the country illegally from Central America—spent time in three Virginia counties and one Maryland county.
His crimes left at least four innocent bystanders injured. They also highlight how gangs sometimes work in one area for months and then move to a new region as members try to elude capture. While law enforcement has begun to curtail MS-13 crime in Northern Virginia, according to a 2009 FBI report, the gang has spread into southern Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia.
Urrutia-Barrera’s crimes were committed while the gang was more active in Loudoun and Fairfax.
A violent beginning
Federal court documents say Urrutia-Barrera, also known as “Lil Duende,” joined MS-13 as an associate member in 2006 at the age of 16. He was jumped in as a full member in 2008 when he was 18. Jumping in is a ritual in which three current MS-13 members kick and punch an associate member for 13 seconds to initiate him or her as a full member.
Once he became a full member, it didn’t take Urrutia-Barrera long to get involved in attacking people he perceived to be members of the 18th Street gang, MS-13’s rival.
Gang members are encouraged to carry out crimes against 18th Street members when they see them.
Court documents show that MS-13 has two cliques that work together in the region. The Western Locos Salvatrucha, or WLS, comprises northern Fairfax County and Loudoun County, while the Normadie Loco Salvatrucha, or NLS, comprises Prince George’s County, Md., and parts of Fairfax County.
A confidential informant who is a member of MS-13 told FBI officials that members of NLS have been sent into Northern Virginia “because WLS members were not ‘representing’ or handling gang business properly.”
While Urrutia-Barrera has been convicted of two attacks in Loudoun County in 2008, the more violent attack of the two happened Sept. 17.
Court documents say that Urrutia-Barrera and other MS-13 members were drinking in Sugarland Run that night when they decided to go to the home of another MS-13 member to continue the party.
“Before everyone left, a leader in the clique handed a .38 revolver to [Urrutia-Barrera],” the documents say.
While sitting in the front passenger seat, Urrutia-Barrera thought he saw a group of 18th Street members at the entrance of Buckingham Court in Sterling Park.
Urrutia-Barrera’s group entered Buckingham Court, and as they drove out, Urrutia-Barrera pulled out the revolver and shot at the group, wounding three.
“Two of the victims were not seriously injured, but one victim remains paralyzed from the waist down,” court documents say.
None of the three were 18th Street gang members, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell confirmed.
Later that night, an MS-13 praised Urrutia-Barrera for the shootings.
After an Oct. 6 attack in Reston that left two men injured with gunshot wounds, Urrutia-Barrera spent several days, possibly a week at an MS-13 leader’s home in Maryland.
Then, at the suggestion of one of the NLS leaders, he fled to Richmond and stayed in a hotel room with a fellow MS-13 member, court documents say.
While in Richmond, Urrutia-Barrera participated in what police called the most violent MS-13 act the region had seen up to that point.
He and fellow gang members saw a man in a restaurant/night club in Chesterfield County who they mistakenly identified as an 18th Street gang member.
They followed the man into the restroom and stabbed him five times, once in the heart. The man survived but lost partial use of a hand and has several scars.
Urrutia-Barrera was convicted of malicious wounding in the case and is serving state time for it.
The 60 years of federal time he is serving are for the Sterling Park triple-shooting and the Oct. 6 attack in Reston.
End of the road
Weeks after the attack in Chesterfield County, several MS-13 members traveled to Northern Virginia to pick up the two guns that had been used in two of Urrutia-Barrera’s attacks.
“They took the guns to the hotel room in Richmond where [Urrutia-Barrera] was staying,” court documents say.
Urrutia-Barrera was there when the guns were sold to someone who promised to ship them out of the country.
That someone ended up being an FBI informant.
Throughout late 2008 and 2009, authorities – many as part of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task, of which Loudoun is a part – pieced together all of Urrutia-Barrera’s crimes.
As gangs move and spread, law enforcement and elected leaders are working to share their knowledge about how to combat them.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th), who secures the funding for the task force, is working with other representatives to begin similar efforts in their jurisdictions. He told Times-Mirror reporters March 22 about a new task force he is helping to build in Maryland.
The authorities are on the move too.
Gang violence timeline
Antonio Urrutia-Barrera, a member of the MS-13 street gang, is accused of involvement in violent attacks from August 2008 to October 2008.
Aug. 30, 2008: Urrutia-Barrera is accused of being involved in a gang assault in Reston. Police say he and others attacked a rival gang member with a baseball bat and glass bottles. Urrutia-Barrera faces a preliminary hearing May 19.
Sept. 11, 2008: Police say Urrutia-Barrera and four others encounter four Park View High School students who they believe are acquaintances of 18th Street Gang members near West Juniper Avenue in Sterling Park. Urrutia-Barrera’s group flashes MS-13 symbols, then assault one of the Park View students before driving off, police say. Urrutia-Barrera is arrested in Richmond Nov. 5 in connection with this attack.
Sept. 14, 2008: Urrutia-Barrera is spotted in a park in Hyattsville, Md., with 18 other people. Police believe they were jumping in new gang members. Police photograph all who are present, including Urrutia-Barrera.
Sept. 17, 2008: Urrutia-Barrera and another MS-13 member are riding around Sterling Park when they see a group of people they think are 18th Street Gang members standing near the intersection of East Poplar Road and Buckingham Court. Urrutia-Barrera pulls out a gun and shoots at the group, hitting three of them. The three who were injured are not gang members, and one of them remains paralyzed from the waist down. Urrutia-Barrera is serving a federal prison sentence for this attack.
Oct. 6, 2008: Urrutia-Barrera and two other MS-13 members attack three people, two of whom were members of the 18th Street Gang, on Freetown Court in Reston. The MS-13 members shoot at all three of them, injuring two, including the one not affiliated with a gang. All three are serving federal prison time for the attack.
Oct. 18, 2008: Urrutia-Barrera and two other MS-13 members attack a man they mistakenly believe to be a rival gang member in the restroom of Valentino Italian Restaurant in Chesterfield County, south of Richmond. They stab the man five times, puncturing his heart, then leave him to die, but the victim survives. Urrutia-Barrera is serving a prison sentence in Chesterfield County for the crime.