Montgomery County police arrested five people in connection with the murder of 22-year-old New Jersey man Jordy Mejia, which police believe is gang-related.
Police charged Neris Moreno, 19 years old of West New York; Nj; Jackelin Leiba-Esperanza, 16 of Brentwood, Maryland; Reynaldo A Granados-Vasquez, 21, of Gaithersburg; Jose Israel Melendez-Rivera, 18 of Montgomery Village; and Katerine Solorzano-Aparicio, 17, of Hyattsville with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Leiba-Esperanza and Solorzano-Aparicio are being charged as adults, according to police.
Rick Goodale, a public information officer for Montgomery County police, said police believe the five suspects have connections to the notorious Central-American gang MS-13.
“They are still trying to determine if Mr. Mejia had gang ties, but some of the suspects arrested are definitely MS-13,” Goodale said.
In November, two hikers discovered Mejia’s body in a shallow grave along the 115000 block of Game Preserver Road in Gaithersburg. Goodale said Mejia was likely murdered in the fall and had been in the shallow grave for around a month before he was discovered.
In January, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was able to identify the body as Mejia’s, but has not determined a cause of death, according to Goodale.
In October, Mejia’s mother reported him missing after he traveled to Maryland from New Jersey to meet a girl he met on Facebook. Mejia’s mother filled a missing person’s report with police in New Jersey after she became concerned after she lost contact with her son.
Goodale said the investigation is still open and they are looking for more potential suspects.
“It’s still not a closed case; they’re still actively investigating,” Goodale said.