Thursday, May 13, 2004

Fairfax County police yesterday arrested an 18-year-old Annandale man for a machete attack in the Alexandria section of the county earlier this week on a 16-year-old youth who police said belonged to a rival gang.

The attack occurred around 1 a.m. Monday in the 6400 block of Edsall Road. Police said the victim’s right hand was “essentially split in two” down the middle, along the same direction as his fingers.

“The victim lost four fingers on his left hand,” according to Dr. Khalique S. Zahir, the surgeon who did the reconstructive surgery. Dr. Zahir said he is “pretty optimistic for [the victim’s] right hand to recover so that he can have strong use of it.”

The victim also suffered severe cuts on his scalp and back, but is in stable condition at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Dr. Zahir said.

Police arrested Hayner R. Flores, 18, of Annandale, around 10 p.m. Wednesday at his home and charged him with malicious wounding and participation in gang activity, felonies that carry penalties of five to 20 years and two to 10 years, respectively.

He is being held in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. Police said more arrests could be made today.

Mr. Flores is a member of the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, police said. The victim is a member of a rival gang, the South Side Locos, which is attempting to challenge MS-13’s control over the Northern Virginia area, police say.

The latest gang incident has shaken the entire state, Virginia’s top law-enforcement official said yesterday.

“It has sent a wakeup call around the entire commonwealth. Some crimes just affect the entire community, but this has affected the entire commonwealth. We’re getting calls from all over the community … saying there are gangs operating in their communities,” Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said.

On Tuesday Mr. Kilgore will meet with Northern Virginia law-enforcement officials about the gang issue. He also plans to travel to Danville, Roanoke, Abingdon and Richmond in the next two weeks to talk with local officials about identifying and preventing gang activity.

Police jurisdictions throughout Northern Virginia have shared information about gang members for the past several years, and in the past two years, Rep. Frank Wolf, 10th District Republican, helped procure around $2 million in federal funds for anti-gang efforts.

MS-13, a mostly Salvadoran gang known for violent crime, is highly organized and makes up 95 percent of the Fairfax gang investigation unit’s case load, according to police documents.

Fairfax police have estimated that there are 4,300 gang members in 53 gangs in Northern Virginia, including 1,131 with known addresses in the county.

MS-13 is believed to have originated in Southern California in the late 1980s when more than a million Salvadoran refugees fled a bloody civil war and came to the United States. Fairfax police have said immigrants bring the gang culture with them, but Salvadoran community leaders in Northern Virginia have said many youths are recruited into gangs and acquire the gang mentality in this country.

MS-13 chapters in California have sent members to the Fairfax area to help target police officers for acts of violence, according to police bulletins. MS-13 members have been convicted of four murders in Northern Virginia since 2000.

The county and the state have formed task forces to deal with the gang issue, and the state Legislature recently passed new laws that increase penalties for gang-related crimes that will go into effect in July.

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