LYNCHBURG, Va. - One of the gang members accused in the murder of a Lynchburg teen has pleaded guilty.
Raymond Wood was 17 when he was killed in March 2017. Authorities say his death was connected to the MS-13 gang, a violent international criminal organization that has become a focus of the Trump administration.
Lisandro Posada-Vazquez, a member of the Sailor Gang branch of MS-13, pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning to capital murder, robbery, abduction, and gang participation.
Posada-Vazquez lives in Montgomery County, Maryland. He knew two other gang members who lived in Lynchburg who were buying marijuana from Wood.
Wood and the two suspects who lived in Lynchburg had a disagreement about the amount and price of marijuana they were getting from Wood. Both sides made threats, and the suspects started plotting Wood's death. They contacted leaders in El Salvador, New York, and Maryland.
"There's no belief that Mr. Wood had any idea of the serious nature of the individuals he was dealing with," Wes Nance, Bedford Commonwealth Attorney, said.
On March 27, 2017, Posada-Vazquez and two other MS-13 members drove from Maryland to meet with the two suspects who lived in Lynchburg. They set up a marijuana deal to lure Wood out of the house. They then abducted him, and drove him to Roaring Run Road in Bedford. While in the car, he was assaulted and choked unconscious. They took marijuana, money, and Timberland boots from Wood.
Nance said Posada-Vazquez was an observacion, the middle rank of the MS-13 structure.
"Participating in crimes of this type allows you to increase in rank. From "Paro" to "Observcion," "Observcion" to "Chacao" from "Chacao" to Homeboy. And so there's motivation within the clique within the gang to participate in this so you can move up the structure of this criminal organization," Nance said.
Posada-Vazquez and four others used a knife to cut Wood's throat. They cut his right hand off, and stabbed him in the chest and stomach. The medical examiner would have testified that he was stabbed 27 times by a sharp instrument.
They then dumped Wood's body in the road.
Posada-Vazquez has a hearing for further proceedings on January 2. His sentencing date has not been set yet. He faces the death penalty.
"We're standing here, one of the first, one of several to be successfully prosecuted is because of our man and women," Sheriff Mike Brown said after Posada-Vazquez guilty plea.
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