(CNSNews.com) -- Two illegal aliens in Walker County, Texas, have pleaded guilty to murdering and dismembering a 16-year-old high school student with a baseball bat and a machete in a national park nearly two years ago. According to investigators, the crime was a revenge killing ordered by the infamously violent Latin American gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
Cristian Zamora, 22, and Ricardo Leonel Campos Lara, 19, both from El Salvador, pleaded guilty on April 17 to aiding and abetting each other and others with the murder of 16-year-old Josael Guevara on Sept. 23, 2013, the Houston Chronicle reported.
A third defendant, Jose Leonel Bonilla-Romero, was charged with murder in Walker County. But because Bonilla-Romero was 17 years old at the time of his arrest, he will not face federal charges but will be tried as an adult at the state level, the report said.
Despite being in the country illegally, Zamora had already had at least one run-in with police before being arrested for murder in 2013. On July 25, 2011, Zamora was charged with driving without a valid driver’s license in Walker County, CNSNews.com reported last year.
Court records show Zamora pleaded “no contest” to the charges, was fined $136 and the case was closed. There is no evidence that Zamora’s immigration status came up at any time during the incident.
After Guevara's murder two years later, FBI Special Agent Pilar Lozano, one of several agents working on the case, explained how Zamora, Campos-Lara, and a third juvenile defendant allegedly lured Guevara to Sam Houston National Park with the intent of killing him.
Josael Guevara in picture to right:
During Zamora's detention hearing on July 1, 2014, FBI Special Agent Lozano said interviews with Zamora and his co-defendants also revealed that higher-ups in MS-13 had reportedly ordered a hit on the high school student, who was allegedly a fellow gang member, after he gave “derogatory information” about gang members in El Salvador.
Lozano added that MS-13 kill orders are common and are often used by lower-ranking members to earn higher status within the gang, which she described as being “extremely violent.”
The day of the murder, Zamora and the two other alleged perpetrators drove the unsuspecting teenager to the park in Zamora’s truck, where they got out of the vehicle to use the restroom, Lozano testified.
Bonilla-Romero then struck Guevara in the head with a bat before Zamora began hitting him with the machete, she said.
At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Donnelly, who is prosecuting the case, said that Guevara was “struck in the head with the bat and also that he was struck repeatedly with the machete.”
Lozano also testified that deleted photos of Guevara’s dismembered body, which had been sent as “proof of death” to two people in Virginia, were recovered from Zamora’s cell phone.
Following Guevara’s murder, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to CNSNews.com that the agency had placed immigration detainers on both Zamora and Campos-Lara for being in the United States illegally.
Zamora and Campos-Lara will be sentenced on July 10. They potentially could face life in prison, the Houston Chronicle reported.