Warrants Uncover Rival Gangs

Warrants Uncover Rival Gangs

Sterling Park Sees MS-13, 18th Street Presence

The Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit is investigating several assaults that occurred in the Sterling area earlier this year that may be tied to two rival gangs, MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang.

Last week, the gang unit served 16 search warrants, eight in the Sterling Park area, and searched the lockers of eight students at Park View High School, who may be involved with several assaults that occurred in the area over the last few months involving MS-13 and 18th Street gang members.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a fight at the McDonald’s on Sterling Boulevard. The suspects, who the Sheriff’s Office believes to be part of the 18th Street gang, fled the area before deputies arrived at the restaurant.

"There were no suspects, no victims," said Sheriff Steve Simpson.

Two days later, possible MS-13 gang members Johnny Lopez, 19, and Eliseo Antonio Morales, 18, of Sterling, assaulted an 18-year-old Park View High School student as he was getting out of his car to go to class, according to the Sheriff’s office. Investigators believe the student is affiliated with the 18th Street gang.

One week later, Lopez, Eliseo and Osmand Wilfredo Larios-Torres, 19, of Leesburg, were involved in another assault at a school bus stop along Providence Village Drive and Maple Avenue, according to the Sheriff’s office. The 18-year-old victim is said to be affiliated with Lopez and Morales’ rival gang, as well.

SIMPSON SAID the incidents at Park View High School and the bus stop might be a retaliation for the incident that occurred at the McDonald’s on Sterling Boulevard Jan. 23.

"Eighteenth Street [gang members] probably initiated something at McDonald’s toward MS-13 [gang members] and they were retaliating," Simpson said.

Lopez and Morales are charged with aggravated malicious wounding and simple assault and Larios Torres is charged with simple assault for the school bus stop incident.

THE SEARCH WARRANTS also resulted in a deportation charge filed against Gabriele Castillo, 18.

Castillo was apprehended the night of Thursday, March 26, and is being held on a deportation order by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Castillo is charged locally with street gang participation and felony gang recruitment. During the investigation, it was revealed that Castillo allegedly "jumped in" a juvenile into the 18th Street gang.

Gang members must be "jumped in" or beat up, as part of an initiation ritual, "to earn the right the join" the group, Simpson said.

The assault investigations will continue, Simpson said, and more arrests are expected.