The "Lil R" gang flashes gang signs in this photo supplied by the state attorney's office.
Prosecutors in Montgomery County have convicted a gang member for his gang affiliations, making him the first person in the county sent to prison under a three-year-old state law targeting gangs.
Andres Cortez was sentenced to up to 20 years in prison this morning for the sexual assault of a woman in Oct. 2012. Prosecutors alleged that he and three other gang members assaulted the woman, while Cortez recorded the incident on his cellphone.
Montgomery County assistant state's attorney Patrick Mays explains why Cortez received five years each for two counts of sexual offense, one assault charge, as well as this relatively new criminal charge.
"Committing a criminal offense in furtherance of a criminal gang," Mays explains. "He was the self-proclaimed leader of the 'Lil R' gang operating generally out of the Wheaton area."
Cortez is the first person in Montgomery County convicted of that crime, which was created by a state law passed three years ago allowing for more aggressive prosecutions of gang members.
As for the "Lil R" gang, 22 alleged members of it have been convicted of crimes, but county prosecutors believe the gang is responsible for many other offenses and are urging any victims to contact the police.