Prosecutors: 5 suspects plotted to kidnap, kill teen to advance MS-13 status

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Five suspects with alleged MS-13 gang ties were arraigned Wednesday on a grand jury indictment accusing them of trying to kidnap and kill a 16-year-old boy in Brentwood. 

Prosecutors say the attempt earlier this month to kidnap the teen was an attempt to elevate their status within MS-13. 

Prosecutors say Miguel Rivera, Oscar Fuentes, Lilliana Villanueva, Vidal Contrera-Ortiz and Jorge Bermudez had knives, bats, a tarp and duct tape in a van as they attempted to abduct the teenager near First Street and Third Avenue. 

According to court documents, Miguel Rivera told the others that the would-be victim was a rival in the 18th Street Gang. He allegedly said, "We're going to take him somewhere private and beat him to death with the bats." He then identified himself as a member of "MS-13 Carleton Click."

Attorneys for two of the five suspects say their clients are not in MS-13 and that there was no such conspiracy. 

"Just because someone is from El Salvador does not mean automatically that he is a member of MS-13," said Peter Mayer, who is representing Oscar Fuentes. "These are young men who were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Four of the five defendants are Brentwood High School students with no prior criminal history. They were each held on ICE detainers. Officials say they were either in the U.S. illegally or are unaccompanied minors.

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