A four-year investigation has resulted in indictments against five people in what Shenandoah County Sheriff Tim Carter is calling an "extremely violent" case.
All five men are charged with gang participation and raping two 15-year-old girls.
A grand jury handed up indictments Tuesday against Harold Guanilo-Cueva, Alex Vigil, Anthony Mendoza, Ryan Williams and a 17-year-old man. Carter says they're all from Northern Virginia.
According to an affidavit to obtain a search warrant, the alleged rapes happened on Jadwyn Road in November 2006. An investigator says the girls snuck out to go to a party.
That same year, the investigator says law enforcement officers served two search warrants on the house on Jadwyn Road for gang-related and sexual assault crimes.
"It's not that easy. It's not that simple. It's very complicated, and this was one of those cases that was very complicated," says Carter. "Hopefully, we'll be able to prosecute these people to the fullest extent of the law. Our goal is to have them off the streets for the rest of their lives."
This case is almost four years old, but it isn't the county's first violent gang case.
Justin Franich and his dad, John, are two of the people who run the Teen Challenge program near Mount Jackson.
They counsel young adults, a few of whom have been in gangs.
"When it comes time for them to change, whether they're getting out of jail, there's not a lot of good programs set up that are going to be able to give them the opportunity to change their lifestyle," says Justin.
The people at Teen Challenge say they're glad law enforcement officials are taking the gang problem seriously. What they'd like to see is the community put more attention on programs like theirs, so that gang members don't end up back in the court system.
Gang recruitment and similar issues are ongoing in the county. Carter says he has deputies trained to run prevention programs, but there's a challenge implementing them.
"Due to the budget constraints that I'm faced with this year, I really don't have staff right now that can go out and do a lot of that. We're trying to do what we can with the resources we have," says Carter.
Del. Todd Gilbert (R-15th) says it's unclear when law enforcement will see funding go back up.
"Law enforcement and public safety has to be a key component of any comprehensive spending reform going forward. I look forward to the day when we can fully fund these programs," says Gilbert.
In the meantime, people at Teen Challenge say they want to see community groups take a more aggressive approach.
"We can sit around and discuss gangs till our faces turn blue, but it's not going to change the problem. Somebody's got to get up and leave their office and go out on the streets and begin to work with these students," says Justin.
The people accused in the rape case were all from Northern Virginia. They are being held at various jails.
A court date has not been set.
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