NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyLake Worth Beach


Gang members arrested in Lake Worth killings, sheriff's office says

Posted at 7:52 AM, Nov 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-17 19:02:45-05

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said deputies have arrested several suspects in connection with two recent fatal shootings in Lake Worth. 

PBSO said that the suspects are MS-13 gang members who killed Lucio Velasquez-Morales, 33, on Oct. 30 and 25-year-old Octavio Sanches-Morales on Nov. 5.

The adult suspect is 20-year-old Victor Manuel Fuentes of El Salvador who was arrested for both homicides.

In the arrest report, detectives said Fuentes admitted to targeting Velasquez-Morales on South H Street and 10 Avenue South in Lake Worth the morning of October 30. The report said Fuentes and his "associates" were in a car, he got out and pointed a gun at the victim and robbed him. When Velasquez-Morales started to run after his wallet was stolen, the report said Fuentes admitted to shooting him because the "demon" in his head told him to. 

In addition, two juveniles, both 17 from El Salvador, were arrested for the homicide. And three other juveniles, two of them 17 and one 16-years-old, were arrested for the homicide of Sanchez-Morales on Nov. 5. 

Detectives said the suspects are all members of the dangerous international gang MS-13. The arrests were not part of the national crackdown conducted by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security. 

Investigators believe the suspects targeted Hispanic men who might be undocumented because they are likely not to report the crimes for fear of being deported.

"Their intent wasn't just to rob, but rob and murder our victims and victims within their own community, many of which are illegal and they felt they wouldn't speak or report these incidents to the police," said Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Chief Frank DeMario.

Investigators worked with ICE agents to identify the MS-13 gang members and said photos of the suspects slashing gang signs and evidence from several shootings helped them. 

A Lake Worth woman who wants to remain anonymous helped her neighbor call police when she discovered Velasquez-Morales on her doorstep said she's heard of MS-13 back in her native country El Salvador, but the recent violent crimes bring the fear too close to home.

"It's something big, you just got to stay inside and stay safe," she said. 

PBSO detectives said they do not ask about anyone's legal status when they are reporting a crime. They are asking any victims or witnesses to come forward. You can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.

PBSO said the suspects face first-degree murder and robbery charges. 

Fuentes was denied bond during a first appearance in court Friday morning.