By KEVIN LEWIS, WJLA
KENSINGTON, Md. (WJLA) - A female human trafficking victim too young to legally drive a car or buy a lottery ticket was savagely beaten with a bat by a pack of incensed MS-13 members, Montgomery County Police say.
Late last month, Ivan Alexis Pena-Rodriguez, 20, Yervin Josue Romero-Rivera, 21, and Miguel Angel Ayala-Rivera, 24, were all formally charged with first-degree assault, plus other assorted criminal counts.
According to court documents obtained by WJLA, Montgomery County authorities served a search and seizure warrant at a suspected MS-13 hangout house along the 11200-block of Valley View Avenue in Kensington, near Albert Einstein High School. As a result of that warrant, an unnamed source told detectives about an incident that left a 15-year-old girl "severely" wounded and bloody.
The source explained Ayala-Rivera, a high-ranking local MS-13 leader who goes by the nickname 'Noctorno', pimps out a number of underage girls from a number of states. On August 1, 2017, the source said Pena-Rodriguez, Romero-Rivera, Ayala-Rivera, plus two other men, used a solid bat to beat the girl behind the single-family home along Valley View Avenue. The men reportedly took turns whacking the 15-year-old girl's flailing body — 28 swings in total. Her injuries included an "indented" buttocks, discolored arms and legs, and visible bleeding from the neck down.
A second unnamed source would later tell cops that Ayala-Rivera ('Noctorno') ordered the backyard clubbing because he felt the victim was "not doing a good job as an MS-13 prostitute." The same source revealed Ayala-Rivera ('Noctorno') raked in a lot of money by trafficking teenage girls to men of all ages.
Detectives managed to speak with the young victim by telephone, but she was too nervous to provide her location or even admit to being brutally assaulted by the gang. She did, however, state she had been at the Valley View Avenue address and knew some of the defendants.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Romero-Rivera and Ayala-Rivera are in the United States illegally. ICE has submitted immigration detainers with Montgomery County authorities for both men. Court paperwork indicates Pena-Rodriguez was born in El Salvador, but ICE says it cannot publicly share information about the 20-year-old.
Romero-Rivera and Ayala-Rivera were already in jail awaiting trial for their alleged roles in a string of armed robberies at check cashing businesses across the area. The streak of high-stakes heists ended in November with a police chase along Interstate 495 in College Park that netted five suspects, plus a stockpile of guns and cash.
Violence committed by MS-13 in communities like Gaithersburg, Montgomery Village, Silver Spring and Wheaton has seen a sharp increase over the last five years in particular. The Montgomery County Police Department and Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office, in conjunction with state and federal authorities, have increased funding and manpower, but the work remains a sizable challenge. Language barriers, deportation misnomers and the fear of witness retaliation are all constant hurdles for detectives to clear, this human trafficking case being no exception.