For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
The Washoe County District Attorney has announced that a defendant convicted in an October jury trial of two counts of 1st degree murder has been sentenced on related charges. Following the jury’s finding of guilt earlier this year, the defendant 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 the defendant on two deadly weapon enhancements and ordered that the life sentences handed down by the jury be run consecutively, ensuring that the maximum possible penalty was imposed.
Luis Alejandro Menendez-Cordero, 26, known as “Apo,” a documented Mara Salvatrucha (MS) 13 gang member, was found guilty of having shot and killed two Sparks men on November 20, 2010. On that date, the Sparks Police Department (SPD) responded to a report of a shooting at 1000 El Rancho #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 succumbed to their injuries. SPD Detectives located witnesses who were able to describe the shooting and identify 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 leave to smoke a cigarette. A short time later, Menendez-Cordero returns alone, armed with a handgun, and shoots the two victims at close range. Menendez-Cordero also attempts to fire his gun at a third victim, but the gun malfunctions and he flees. During the investigation, SPD detectives work with the Reno Police Department’s Regional Gang Unit to identify the suspect and are able to determine he has connections to California and El Salvador. Menendez-Cordero is tracked to Sacramento and eventually Los Angeles. However, he ultimately escapes to El Salvador with the aid of other MS13 gang members.
After significant efforts by the Sparks Police Department and this office, Menendez-Cordero was ultimately arrested in El Salvador and extradited back to the United States to stand trial.