Family: MS-13 to blame for murder of Aldine ISD student

ALDINE, TX (KTRK) -- Friends from a murdered teen's soccer league gathered Tuesday evening at a northeast side park to remember him.

The body of 14-year-old Jose Meraz was found September 15 in a west Houston field. Since then, friends and relatives have remembered the Stovall Middle School student in many ways.

Meraz is originally from Honduras and has been living with cousins in Houston since coming to the U.S.

His aunt Herlinda Reyes describes what happened to him as terrible. She says he was killed with a machete and his body had been mutilated. Reyes and other family members believe he died at the hands of MS-13 gang members for refusing to kill someone else.

Mike Knox is a national gang expert, author of the book "Gangsta in the House," and founder of the first gang unit with the Houston Police Department.

"They're big claim to fame has been extreme violence," he says of MS 13.

The gang is still widespread in Houston, although Knox says they haven't been in the media as much recently.

Knox isn't working this case specifically but he says it's not uncommon for gang members to recruit at Meraz's age or even younger. He adds,

"If it is a gang-related issue, it's probably not because he was being initiated; it's probably because he was already a member and likely refused an order and changes the complexity a little bit," he said.

Knox goes on to describe the danger beyond the teen's death.

"Brutality is always a sign, a message to future members who might want to ignore an instruction or directive that you're going to die a very horrific death," Knox said.

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