A teenage MS-13 gangster was sentenced to 40 years in prison for torturing and murdering a 15-year-old girl.
Venus Romero Iraheta, 18, pleaded guilty to the murder in Fairfax County, Virginia on Monday, one year after brutally stabbing Damaris Reyes Rivas 13 times.
A video of her interrogation by police in February last year showed the gang member explaining why she killed Reyes Rivas after telling her: ‘remember me until the day we see each other in hell.’
Fellow MS-13 gangsters recorded Rivas being tortured, having her tattoo cut off and stabbed to death by Iraheta, and then sent it to gang leaders in El Salvador.
She pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, abduction and criminal street participation earlier this year at the court Fairfax County, Virginia. A judge imposed a sentence of 40 years in prison on Iraheta on Friday.
Iraheta (left) said she murdered Reyes Rivas (right) to avenge the death of her boyfriend, Christian Sosa Rivas, who she claimed Reyes Rivas had lured to his death
Venus Romero Iraheta, 18, was sentenced to 40 years in jail for brutally stabbing to death and torturing Damaris Reyes Rivas. Pictured: Iraheta pointing to her neck to show cops where she stabbed her victim in a video released earlier this year
A video of her interrogation by police in February showed the MS-13 gang member explaining why she killed Reyes Rivas
She pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, abduction and criminal street participation earlier this year at the court Fairfax County, Virginia. A judge imposed a sentence of 40 years in prison on Iraheta.
The case was so horrific it drew national attention and was used by the Trump administration to grimly highlight the resurgence of MS-13 in Washington and beyond.
Reyes Rivas’ mother Maria told Iraheta in court Friday that the woman ‘destroyed’ her life, The Washington Post reported.
‘I want to say to this young lady that she destroyed my life. She destroyed the life of my daughter.
‘She didn’t owe anything to you,’ she told Iraheta through a translator. ‘My daughter is not in hell, as she said. She’s in heaven. She has shown me that in my dreams. Hell will be lived by you, not by her.’
Iraheta, whose body shook with grief through much of the hearing, testified that she was remorseful for what she had done.
When asked by her attorney to respond to what Reyes said about her going to hell, Iraheta said simply: ‘She’s probably right’.
‘I know I have made the worst mistake of my life. At night, while I’m sleeping I will wake up with these memories. They will come to me full force. I wish I could push them away’.
But Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh called Iraheta’s contrition ‘crocodile tears’.
In the shocking footage first seen by Fox5, Iraheta, then 17, explains how she took Reyes Rivas to a wooded area at Lake Accotink Park with nine other people before torturing and murdering her.
She said she killed the girl to avenge the murder of her boyfriend, Christian Sosa Rivas. She blamed Reyes Rivas for luring Sosa Rivas, also an MS-13 member, to his death.
She told interrogators she said to the girl: ‘Don’t forget my name. And I told her my full name and I told her my nickname.
In the interrogation video, Iraheta tells cops in Spanish that she told Reyes Rivas (pictured) she would ‘remember me until the day we see each other in hell’
‘And I told it to her and I told her to never forget who I was. I told her someday we’re going to see each other again.’
When she is asked what she did next, she replies in English: ‘I killed her.’
She then explained that she stabbed her ‘something like’ thirteen times with a knife.
Iraheta told interrogators she had asked Reyes Rivas if she ‘had something to do with’ her boyfriend.
When she said yes, Iraheta replied: ‘I’m not going to forgive you.’
She went on: ‘I told her, ‘I warned you not to mess with me. I told you not to mess with Christian. I told you to stay away from him or you would see what would happen. You don’t play with me.’
‘So I hit her. I kept hitting her. Until they stopped me.’
The disgusting murder was recorded on video with a cellphone so it could be sent to gang leaders in El Salvador as a way of gaining promotion.
Fairfax County’s attorney, Ray Morrogh, said on Monday that Iraheta was a ‘prodigy at violence’, NBC Washington reported.
Iraheta could get a maximum term of life in jail plus twenty years when she is sentenced on May 25.
Iraheta lured Damaris to a wooded area near this park. Gruesome cell phone videos show the gang torturing the girl
The disgusting murder was also recorded on video with a cellphone so it could be sent to gang leaders in El Salvador as a way of gaining promotion. Left: Iraheta. Right: Reyes Rivas
So far, seven of the 10 people charged in connection with the murder have either been convicted or have pleaded guilty.
They will be sentenced on May 5.
MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha, consists chiefly of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from Central America.
The gang is notorious for its links to cartels and organized crime, and for its ability to access high-powered weapons.
TWO MS-13 MEMBERS CHARGED WITH RAPING AND KIDNAPPING TEENAGE GIRLS LAST YEAR
Two members of MS-13 based in Houston were charged last year on suspicion of killing a teenager and kidnapping another in 2017.
Gang leader Miguel Angel Alvarez-Flores, 22, who also goes by ‘Diabolico,’ and 18-year-old Diego Alexan Hernandez-Rivera, who had a Satanic shrine in their Houston apartment, laughed, smiled and waved in court as they faced charges of aggravated kidnapping and murder.
Prosecutors said the two kidnapped a 14-year-old girl after she left school around February 2, holding her in an apartment where she was raped by a gang member.
Miguel Alvarez-Flores (right) smiles and waves at news cameras in Houston court on Wednesday, as the gang leader known as ‘Diabolico’ and his partner 18-year-old Diego Hernandez-Rivera (left) faced charges of aggravated kidnapping and murder
Another girl kept at the apartment, named only as Genesis, was found shot dead in the head and chest on February 16, and has not been identified.
Authorities released the facial reconstruction image of one of the pair’s alleged victims in a bid to identify her.
The girl – aged between 15 and 25 – was found dead on the morning of February 16.
She was also shot in the neck and torso.
Police said Rivera had confessed to leading the woman to a remote area and shooting her.
Because of civil wars and guerrilla insurgencies in Central America, many of the gang’s founding members had paramilitary experience, making them more deadly than other criminal groups.
Its primary weapons, however, are baseball bats and machetes.
The Department of Justice classifies MS-13 as a ‘transnational criminal organization’ engaged in drug trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, prostitution, murder and extortion.
President Donald Trump has referred to MS-13 as ‘bad hombres.’
Because many MS-13 members are under the age of 18, the U.S. is unable to lawfully return them to their home countries.
The gang has a strong presence in Southern California, Washington and Northern Virginia, all areas with substantial Salvadoran populations.
There are at least 30,000 members in a range of countries, including at least 10,000 in the United States.
Its official motto is ‘Kill, Rape, Control.’