In a December 2017 post captioned "No Sanctuary for MS-13", I discussed how members of the notorious MS-13 gang were preying on the residents of Prince George's County, Md., a sanctuary county in the National Capital Region. Recently, however, a handful of press outlets have been reporting on a particularly horrific offense allegedly perpetrated in neighboring Montgomery County, Md.
Montgomery County denies that it is a "sanctuary jurisdiction", but its leaders make it sound like one. In particular, the press reported in February 2017 that:
Amid reports that parents are keeping children home from school because they fear deportation, leaders in Montgomery County, Maryland, are reassuring immigrants that they are welcome and safe.
One person who was not "welcome and safe" in Montgomery County, at least according to police, was a "15-year-old sex trafficking victim", as WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C., explained in a recent article:
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 Aug. 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.
The victim's alleged offense? According to WJLA, a "second unnamed source" told the police the girl was beaten because "Ayala-Rivera ('Noctorno') ... felt the victim was 'not doing a good job as an MS-13 prostitute.'" The station indicated that this source also "revealed Ayala-Rivera ('Noctorno') raked in a lot of money by trafficking teenage girls to men of all ages."
I would note that in October 2012, the Department of Treasury designated MS-13 as a "transnational criminal organization" (TCO). In the press release accompanying that designation, the department stated:
Local MS-13 cliques take direction from the group's foreign leadership for strategic decisions involving moves into new territories and efforts to recruit new members. Money generated by local MS-13 cliques in the U.S. is consolidated and funneled to the group's leadership in El Salvador.
When it comes to the gang, no crime is truly local, regardless of the victim.
The Baltimore Sun describes Montgomery County as "among the most affluent counties in the country, with "one of the highest percentages of residents with post-graduate degrees", and notes that it is one of the remaining candidates (and the "only 'county'") to host Amazon's second headquarters. The Sun continues:
The county is already home to a number of business, research and higher learning institutions.
Johns Hopkins University has a campus in the county, as does the University System of Maryland, with The Universities of Shady Grove. It is also home to the National Institutes of Health and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
Many U.S. federal government agencies call the county home, as well.
Kensington is not exactly the sort of unincorporated city that is bringing down the tony atmosphere in the county. The "Explore Kensington" website describes its charming downtown and the many amenities that are available to its residents. Nor is Albert Einstein High School the Washington-area equivalent to "James Buchanan High School" from "Welcome Back Kotter"; the school's website notes:
Albert Einstein High School, along with Montgomery Blair, Wheaton, J.F. Kennedy, and Northwood are the schools of choice in the Down County Consortium (DCC). Each of the DCC high schools offers courses of study so students may explore future career possibilities and/or better prepare themselves for post-secondary education. Currently, 20 programs are offered at the five DCC high schools.
So, according to police, a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim was savagely beaten with a bat by a pimp (who is a member of a transnational criminal organization) in an upscale neighborhood near an honors high school close to the nation's capital. This would normally be headline news. Interestingly, however, I could find only a handful of outlets that reported on this crime at all.
This is particularly problematic, given the fact that the Maryland state legislature is again considering a sanctuary state bill. Among other things, that bill would prevent a law-enforcement agent from transferring "an individual to federal immigration authorities for purposes of immigration enforcement" absent a "judicial warrant", that is "a warrant based on probable cause and issued by a federal judge or a federal magistrate judge." Such warrants are so rare that such a requirement would, more or less, prevent the arrest of alleged criminals like those charged in the Kensington case.
It is up to the representatives of the citizens of Maryland to decide whether that bill should become law. It would help, however, if the press gave those citizens all of the facts.