VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A 24-year-old man has been sentenced to 21 years after pleading guilty in the 2018 fatal shooting of a 19-year-old in Virginia Beach.

According to the office of the Virginia Beach’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Jose Morales-Arriola, pled guilty in Circuit Court to charges of second-degree murder and participation in a criminal act for the benefit of or at the direction of Gang MS-13. 

Circuit Court Judge Kevin M. Duffan sentenced Morales-Arriola to 4 years in prison with 19 years suspended for second-degree murder and 10 years in prison with 5 years suspended for participation in a criminal act for the benefit of or at the direction of Gang MS-13, to run concurrently.

Morales-Arriola will serve a total of 21 years behind bars.

The charges stem from an incident in July 2018 after the body of 19-year-old Chesapeake resident Jairo Armando Sanchez-Guardado was found on the shoreline in the Lake Smith/Lawson area by two kayakers.

Investigators say Sanchez-Guardado was found “slumped over in a wooded area of the shoreline.”

The kayakers called police who determined that the victim died from a gunshot wound in the back of his head.

After an extensive investigation which included video surveillance, cell phone data, and witness interviews, detectives revealed that the murder was related to MS-13 gang activity.

MS-13 is a transnational criminal street gang with international membership.

Morales-Arriola, Willian Rodriguez, Melvin Edgardo Molina-Ramos, Cristian Granados-Nunez and another MS-13 gang member were involved in the murder of Guardado because they believed he was involved with a rival gang; however, investigators did not find evidence to support that.  

Molina-Ramos, the most senior member of MS-13, ordered Guardado’s murder. Guardado was lured to the lake under the guise of fishing, drinking beer, and smoking marijuana. 

Morales-Arriola shot Guardado once in the back of the head. Rodriguez then took a picture of Guardado as evidence of the killing.