Two known members of the notorious street gang MS-13, illegal immigrants from El Salvador, appeared in Houston court on Wednesday to hear charges against them in the kidnapping and torture of one victim and the “satanic” killing of another.
Miguel Alvarez-Flores, a 22-year-old leader of the group also known as “Diabolico,” and Diego Hernandez-Rivera, an 18-year-old also in the gang, were arrested on Monday on charges of aggravated kidnapping in one case and murder in another, the Houston Chronicle reported. Court records indicated that both men were in the country illegally.
While in the court room, Hernandez-Rivera and Alvarez-Flores reportedly laughed, smiled, and waved for the cameras during a hearing Thursday morning.
In the kidnapping case, the female victim allegedly ran away from school in early February, to an apartment. While there, she reportedly tried to leave but was held against her will for four days and sexually assaulted by one gang member. She was then held for around 14 days at a different location.
This victim reportedly told detectives that there were six gang members living at the apartment, and they forced her to take drugs and alcohol to keep her in an intoxicated state during her time there. She also reported being held down while Alvarez-Flores tattooed the image of a grim reaper from her knee down to her foot.
On February 16, the body of another young woman was found in west Houston. The kidnapping victim identified her only as “Genesis,” another girl held at the second apartment where the kidnapping victim was held.
According to charges brought against the gang members, Genesis allegedly made an outburst against the gang members’ satanic rituals and shrine, which led Alvarez-Flores (a.k.a. “Diabolico”) to declare that the “Beast” required a soul sacrifice. When the kidnapping victim awoke the day afterwards, Genesis had disappeared.
Police found the woman’s body shot once in the head and once in the chest.
Prosecutor Lisa Collins told the judge that Hernandez-Rivera told police that he led the woman to a remote area and shot her twice. According to a story by ABC-13 News, police said Hernandez-Rivera was compelled by Alvarez-Flores to do so.
Court documents identified both suspects as MS-13 gang members from El Salvador. Both men will be held by federal immigration authorities should they make bail, Collins said. The suspects requested a court-appointed lawyer, and their cases have been assigned to the 339th district court with Judge Maria Jackson.
Alvarez-Flores and Hernandez-Rivera remained in the Harris County jail, under $300,000 bond.
MS-13 stands for Mara Salvatrucha, an international criminal gang which originated in Los Angeles, Calif. Most members are ethnic Salvadorans. Notable MS-13 gangs are active in Los Angeles, the San Fransisco Bay Area, areas of Maryland and Virginia surrounding Washington, D.C., Queens and Long Island in New York City, certain areas of New Jersey, the area around Boston, Mass., Charlotte, N.C., and Houston, Texas.
The gang’s activities have drawn the attention of the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which have initiated wide-scale raids against known and suspected gang members.
Last year, authorities in the D.C. area reported concern that the surge of unaccompanied migrants crossing the southern border with Mexico could have helped MS-13 recruit new members, leading to an increase of violence around the nation’s capital. Fox News reported that there are as many as 10,000 members in 46 states.