A member of the feared MS-13 street gang who allegedly participated in the July murder of 17-year-old Herson Rivas in Lynn later boasted that an accomplice repeatedly stabbed the boy “as if he were a cow” while the teen begged for his life, records show.
The horrific details were contained in a motion prosecutors filed Wednesday in US District Court in Boston seeking the pretrial detention of six suspects, who authorities say belong to the violent Sykos Locos Salvatrucha clique of MS-13.
Rivas was stabbed dozens of times on July 30 and left for dead in a wooded area near Henry Avenue Playground, prosecutors said. The medical examiner determined “the death was a homicide and the cause of the death was sharp force injuries to the head, neck, torso, and extremities, as well as blunt force injuries to the head,” the motion said.
The suspects are all charged with racketeering. Five are charged with murdering Rivas, a low-level Sykos associate whom they suspected of cooperating with law enforcement, to further the racketeering enterprise, filings show. The defendants were indicted Wednesday and are currently in custody. A seventh juvenile suspect is also charged with participating in the murder.
One of the alleged killers, Henri Salvador Gutierrez, 19, of Somerville, made the cow remark during a secretly recorded jailhouse conversation with a cooperating witness on Oct. 29, according to the motion that Assistant US Attorney Kunal Pasricha filed.
“When I stabbed him, it came out,” said Gutierrez, who also goes by “Perverso,” according to the filing. “And [co-defendant Eliseo Vaquerano Canas] Peligroso, dude, he was dicing him as if he were a cow, that [expletive]! The knife Peligroso had, dude, looked like a saw now, dude. It broke, the son of a [expletive], on the cutting edge. It was warped. Because he was hitting him right on the skull, Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!”
Wednesday’s charges followed a sweeping 2016 indictment of 61 MS-13 members and associates for a slew of violent crimes including the murders of Wilson Martinez, 15, stabbed to death on Constitution Beach in East Boston on Sept. 7, 2015, and the killing of Christofer Perez de la Cruz, 16, fatally shot and stabbed on Jan. 10, 2016, on Falcon Street, also in Eastie.
About 50 defendants in the 2016 indictment have been convicted, legal filings show.
No lawyer for Gutierrez was listed in case documents Thursday, and his initial court appearance hasn’t been set. Pasricha wrote that Gutierrez has ample experience with the justice system, including the immigration courts.
Gutierrez, a Salvadoran national, entered the US unlawfully in June 2014 and “went through numerous immigration proceedings” while cycling in and out of custody, Pasricha wrote.
“During that time, he had at least three separate arrests for carrying a large knife or machete, weapons commonly associated with MS-13,” the motion said.
About a month before Rivas’s murder, Gutierrez “succeeded in convincing an immigration court that he was not in a gang, was not violent, did not pose a threat to the public, and should be released and have his immigration status adjusted,” Pasricha wrote.
The prosecutor also suggested Gutierrez may have killed previously.
“Among other things, [Gutierrez] states that he was ‘jumped in’ as a homeboy of MS-13 when he was 16-years-old,” the motion said. “Given that being jumped in as a homeboy generally requires the commission of a murder, and given some other statements on the recording, it appears that the July 2018 murder was not the first murder committed by [Gutierrez].”
The other four suspects charged with killing Rivas are Erick Lopez Flores, 29, also known as “Mayimbu”; Canas, 19, who goes by “Peligroso”; Jonathan Tercero Yanes, 21, dubbed “Desalmado”; and Marlos Reyes, 22, nicknamed “Silencio.”
The sixth defendant, Djavier Duggins, 29, who goes by “Haze,” is an alleged leader of the Sykos clique, court records show.
Duggins’s lawyer couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday, and Yanes’s attorney declined to comment. No lawyers were listed for the other suspects.
Pasricha wrote that four of the suspects “appear to have entered or remained in the United Status unlawfully. At least four of the six defendants have MS-13 tattoos indicating that they are MS-13 homeboys, suggesting that they committed a murder or other violent attack. At least two of the six defendants have felony records. At least two of the six defendants were previously in immigration custody but were released and went on to commit the July 2018 murder.”
An affidavit from FBI Special Agent William R. McDermott supporting Pasricha’s motion described the global scale of MS-13’s activities.
McDermott described MS-13 as “one of the largest and most violent criminal organizations in the world, with over 10,000 members in the United States and over 30,000 members internationally,” with a local presence in East Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Revere, Somerville, and Everett.
The gang has “evolved into one of the world’s most organized, structured, and violent criminal organizations, engaging in myriad localized and transnational crimes, including murder, assault, extortion, robbery, drug trafficking, and human trafficking,” McDermott wrote.
Additional Massachusetts slayings attributed to MS-13 include the October 2014 killing of 35-year-old Katerin Gomez, a single mother of three struck by a stray bullet in Chelsea; the December 2014 fatal shooting of Javier Ortiz, 29, also in Chelsea; the fatal stabbing in July 2015 of 16-year-old Jose Aguilar Villanueva in Lawrence; and the September 2015 fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Irvin de Paz in East Boston, according to McDermott.
Despite the gang’s reputation for killing informers, a number of cooperating witnesses stepped forward in recent months to identify the men indicted Wednesday as members of the Sykos clique, the affidavit said.
The suspects picked up Rivas in a car driven by Flores and drove him to the Lynn park where he was killed, according to McDermott’s affidavit.
Gutierrez allegedly told a jailhouse informant during a recorded conversation that the men stabbed Rivas because “the guy was working with the cops, dog.” Yet Gutierrez initially struggled to recall his alleged victim’s name.
“What was that son of a [expletive]’s name . . . Smiley,” Gutierrez said, referring to Rivas’s nickname, records show. “His name was Herson.”
In addition, Gutierrez said Rivas was “high” when he was being lured to the murder scene, and the alleged killers never directly accused him of snitching.
“No, we didn’t confront him at all, what for,” Gutierrez said. “He must have thought that we hadn’t found out.”
Gutierrez even made a bet with an accomplice regarding who would draw first blood during the craven attack on Rivas, according to the affidavit.
“The bet was who would be the one to stab first,” Gutierrez said, adding that he lamented to an accomplice, “that son of a [expletive] beat me to it! Son of a [expletive], you got ahead of me!”
Eventually, though, Gutierrez did stab Rivas hard, “straight into his ribs, dude,” he told the informant. “And when I pulled out the knife, it was warped. The son of a bitch was warped. Not just on the tip, but it came out kind of twisted.”
Later in the conversation, Gutierrez erupted in laughter when he said Rivas was “covered in blood, and they stabbed him!” the affidavit said.
McDermott wrote that prior to Gutierrez’s immigration proceedings about a month before Rivas’s murder, Homeland Security and a Boston police regional intelligence center verified Gutierrez as an MS-13 member.
But Gutierrez said during his immigration hearing that he “would not join a gang because he does not like them and neither does his family,” the affidavit said.
Later when he was locked up, Gutierrez told the cooperating witness that in addition to killing Rivas, he also had “ ‘done another thing,’ which based on the context and content of the discussion, I believe is a reference to a prior murder that [Gutierrez] had committed,” McDermott wrote.
Another alleged victim narrowly escaped death, the affidavit said.
According to the filing, Gutierrez said on the jail recording that he stabbed another person in 2014 or 2015 while an accomplice shot that victim, but “[t]he son of a [expletive] didn’t die, dog,” the filing said.