Andres J. Cortez, 21, of Silver Spring, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for three counts of 3rd degree sex offense and one count of participation in a criminal gang.
Photo of Lil' R gang, courtesy of Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WUSA9) -- Montgomery County prosecutors think they've taken a big bite out of one of the area's nastiest, most violent and unpredictable gangs.
A judge just sentenced gang leader Andres Cortez to 15 years for the videotaped group sexual assault on a woman who he may have drugged.
Cortez allegedly showed an even more graphic media file to a friend. However, when police obtained the cell phone, that filed had apparently been deleted. Prosecutors say Cortez could have gotten even more time if videotape of the incident was not cut short.
Some of Cortez's buddies were so angry, they threatened this reporter in the elevator after the sentencing.
We can't show you the video, but prosecutors say you can hear the woman wailing and pleading with the gang members to stop. The four men flash gang signs and just keep attacking her. Prosecutors say Andres Cortez is the ringleader, recording the attack on his cell phone, and directing the others on camera to pull her clothes off.
"They're yelling out each others nicknames, and they're laughing at the crimes they're committing," says Patrick Mays, and assistant Montgomery County state's attorney.
Prosecutors say Cortez is actually the 20th member of this Lil R they've put away. The rest of them have committed all kinds of mayhem. Burglary, sex offense, assault, even murder.
"When you take out a leader, I think it sends a real message to the gang and leaves it in disarray," says Marybeth Ayres, who leads gang prosecutions.
But after the judge handed Cortez 15 years... two of the gang members who were watching threatened me in the elevator... cursing at me, and asking me "What I was looking at!???"
I kept a respectful distance as they left the courthouse.
The threats came as no surprise to the prosecutors. "Once you think they're finished. Once you think they're put in there place, they do something even more incredible," said Ayres.
Police believe a half dozen Lil R gang members also raped a 16 year old girl at gunpoint... but they're still working that case. "We're concerned that this group has done this to other people," said Montgomery Co. Police Det. Sgt. Rob Grims. "Please do come forward. We would love to talk to you," Det. Alyson Dupouy told the possible victims.
Love to talk to more victims... and send Lil R gang to prison for even longer.
Cortez' lawyer asked the judge to give him just five years, arguing that the feds are going to deport him to his native El Salvador as soon as he gets out anyway.
"Mr. Cortez faces many years in prison because of the misguided glorification of the gangster lifestyle and for the sexual assault of an innocent bystander. This sentence sends a strong message that gang violence will not be tolerated in our community. If you belong to a gang and try to show off by sexually assaulting a young woman, police will find you and we will put you behind bars," said State's Attorney John J. McCarthy.
Cortez's sentence comes after years of investigations into Lil' R. Officials say Cortez is the self proclaimed leader of this group.