Alleged MS 13 gang member sentenced to life for Sparks murders |

Alleged MS 13 gang member sentenced to life for Sparks murders

Nevada Appeal staff report

Luis Alejandro Menendez-Cordero, who has been identified as an Mara Salvatrucha (MS) 13 gang member, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of two Sparks men in 2010.

The Washoe County District Attorney announced on Thursday Menendez-Cordero, who had been convicted in October of two counts of first degree murder, was sentenced on the charges. Menendez-Cordero was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole for each of the two murder charges.

On Tuesday, District Court Judge Connie Steinheimer, who presided over the trial, sentenced Menendez-Cordero on two deadly weapon enhancements and ordered the life sentences handed down by the jury be run consecutively, ensuring the maximum possible penalty was imposed.

Cordero, 26, known as “Apo,” was found guilty of having shot and killed two Sparks men on Nov. 20, 2010. On that date, the Sparks Police Department responded to a report of a shooting at 1000 El Rancho No. A5. When officers arrived they located two victims, Moises Vazquez, 21 and Kevin Melendez, 19. Melendez was shot twice in the back and Vazquez was shot below the right eye. Both victims received life saving measures at the scene and were transported to Renown hospital where they eventually died.

SPD detectives located witnesses who were able to describe the shooting and identified the suspect, know to them as “Apo.” Detectives determined there was a small gathering at the apartment that included the residents and acquaintances of theirs. Menendez-Cordero and another man were also at the party and were known to the apartment residents. At one point in the evening, Menendez-Cordero and his associate left to smoke a cigarette. A short time later, Menendez-Cordero returned alone, armed with a handgun, and shot the two victims at close range.

Menendez-Cordero also attempted to fire his gun at a third victim, but the gun malfunctioned and he fled, officials stated. During the investigation, SPD detectives worked with the Reno Police Department’s Regional Gang Unit to identify the suspect and were able to determine he had connections to California and El Salvador. Menendez-Cordero was tracked to Sacramento and eventually Los Angeles. However, he ultimately escaped to El Salvador with the aid of other MS13 gang members.

After efforts by the Sparks Police Department and the Washoe County District Attorney’s office, Menendez-Cordero was ultimately arrested in El Salvador and extradited back to the United States to stand trial.