Annandale man sentenced to life in prison for aiding and covering up gang murder

A judge’s gavel on a table (via Wesley Tingey/Unsplash)

A 29-year-old man from Annandale will spend the rest of his life in federal prison after he was sentenced on Friday (Aug. 4) for participating in and helping cover up the murder of a fellow gang member.

Sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Jose Henry Hernandez-Garcia was convicted of racketeering, murder and conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence on Dec. 16, 2022 after a two-week trial.

According to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hernandez-Garcia and at least three other members of the international gang MS-13 stabbed and killed an unnamed victim at the house of Jose Domingo Ordonez-Zometa — allegedly their branch’s leader — in Landover Hills, Maryland, on March 8, 2019.

Ordonez-Zometa had called a meeting to discuss suspicions that the victim was working with the police, prosecutors said in a news release.

During the questioning, Hernandez-Garcia, his co-defendants and at least one other MS-13 member assaulted Victim 1, based on their incorrect suspicions that Victim 1 was cooperating with law enforcement.  They also assaulted another MS-13 member who attempted to defend Victim 1.  The assault culminated with Ordonez-Zometa, as LGCS clique leader, ordering that Victim 1 be killed.  Hernandez-Garcia, [Jose Rafael] Ortega-Ayala, and other MS-13 members then stabbed and murdered Victim 1 in Ordonez-Zometa’s basement.

According to trial testimony, after the murder, Ordonez-Zometa ordered Hernandez-Garcia, Ortega-Ayala, and other LGCS clique members and co-conspirators, to conceal and destroy evidence of the murder.  Ortega-Ayala and other MS-13 members transported the body of the victim to a secluded location in Stafford County, Virginia, and set the victim’s body on fire, then destroyed and concealed evidence of the murder from the vehicle used to transport the victim.  Meanwhile, Ordonez-Zometa, Hernandez-Garcia, and another MS-13 member stayed at the crime scene and attempted to remove, destroy, and conceal evidence of the murder, including the blood of Victim 1.

Ordonez-Zometa and Ortega-Ayala were also convicted in December. The former was given life in prison on March 6, while the latter could get the same sentence at a hearing on Sept. 25.

This isn’t the first time a Fairfax County resident has been convicted of a murder tied to MS-13 activities. Last November, five people were sentenced to life in prison for killing two teens at Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in Annandale in 2016.

Photo via Wesley Tingey/Unsplash