MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced today that 17 alleged members and associates of the MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) gang have been indicted by a grand jury on various charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking in Nassau County and nationally.
The 17 defendants are charged with various crimes in the 21-count indictment, including Murder in the Second Degree (an A felony), Operating as a Major Trafficker (an A-I felony) – both which carry potential life sentences – and Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony). All 17 of the defendants face up to 25 years to life in prison on if convicted on their top charges.
“This massive multi-agency investigation laid bare the global size, complexity, and brutality of MS-13, and these indictments strike a heavy blow to the gang’s operations on Long Island,” DA Singas said. “These alleged gang members have terrorized vulnerable immigrant communities, trafficked deadly heroin into our neighborhoods, and this coalition of more than 22 agencies nationwide will continue to be unrelenting in our efforts to dismantle MS-13.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt stated, “A local drug investigation led to unveiling ruthless MS-13 cliques responsible for murder, assaults and drug trafficking in our backyard. MS-13 gang’s mission is to control our towns through brutal violence, but today we took that control away from them. Not only did we arrest the highest-level Mara Salvatrucha leader in the Northeast who reports to MS-13 in El Salvador, but we sent a message that we will continue to investigate their violent crimes and bring justice to their victims.” SAC Hunt would like to acknowledge the hard work of all law enforcement agencies involved including DEA’s Houston Division, Baltimore District Office, Washington, DC Division and San Salvador Country Office.
“This case is part of a bigger and extremely important multi-agency push to rid Long Island of MS-13. Our FBI Long Island Gang Task Force is working every day with our members, which include Suffolk County Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, Rockville Center Police, Hempstead Police, Suffolk County Probation, ATF and HSI, along with our Safe Streets Task Forces across the country, and internationally with our task force in El Salvador, and we are having a significant impact on their violence. MS-13 members kill for no reason, but we are not going to let it continue,” said William F. Sweeney, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI New York Field Office.
“It is no secret that the MS-13’s motto is kill, rape, and control. When you look at the charges against these individuals today, it shows that they stay true to their ruthless ways, and will fund their gang activities by any means,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “It is imperative that law enforcement continues to share intelligence and resources as we continue efforts to disrupt and dismantle the nefarious MS-13 gang.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “I commend District Attorney Singas, her staff, the Nassau County Police Department and all agencies involved in this important indictment. I promise the full support of my office in continuing this war against MS 13 and the gangs that are trying to take our communities. We have a message: you will not succeed.”
Nassau County Commissioner of Police Patrick Ryder said, “Today’s indictments of charges on murder, conspiracy and drug charges is a stark reminder that our work is not done in our quest to rid these violent street gangs form our neighborhoods. Although we are making great strides regarding our enforcement aspect, we must also be there to educate the young adults and children in these communities. I cannot have good families and their children in our Hispanic communities to be intimidated by this fear and violence. I congratulate all of the investigative jurisdictions for their diligence and dedication in their relentless pursuit to stop these violent gangs”
New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said, “I commend the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the DEA’s Long Island District Office and all of the agencies involved in this investigation for working together to combat gang violence and drug trafficking associated with MS-13. The scope of this case, in which members of various MS-13 cliques travelled between Maryland and New York to engage in criminal activity, underscores the importance of local and federal law enforcement partnerships and collaboration.”
DA Singas said that beginning in May 2017, the NCDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration began an investigation into the alleged criminal activity of several MS-13 members. Investigators identified MS-13 operations, or “cliques,” in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Texas.
MS-13 leaders in El-Salvador allegedly directed the leaders of the “Hollywood” and “Sailors” cliques based on Long Island in Hempstead, Freeport, Roosevelt, Uniondale, Glen Cove, Greenport, Central Islip and elsewhere.
Cliques are sub-groups of MS-13. All cliques are MS-13 gang members, and each clique operates individually under it’s on rules, yet is still under the greater rules of the entire organization. MS-13 mandates that cliques respect each other and their territories. Any issues or conflicts between cliques that require resolution or punishment are handled by MS-13 senior leadership.
Hollywood and Sailors clique leaders allegedly reported to gang leaders in El Salvador, and sent them the proceeds of their criminal activities. Based on the evidence acquired during this investigation, the gang also has affiliates operating around the world in places such as Mexico, Colombia, South Korea, France, Australia, Peru, Egypt, Ecuador and Cuba.
To establish gang supremacy, MS-13 members allegedly committed ruthless acts of violence, such as murders of rivals, and implementation of severe punishments of gang members who failed to follow the gang’s protocols. These violent acts were sanctioned at the direction of gang leaders. Additionally, the indictment charges that members agreed to kill and inflict punishment on disloyal members who cooperated with law enforcement or tried to leave the gang.
The indictment alleges that defendants David Sosa Guevara a/k/a Risky and Victor Lopez, brutally murdered 15-year-old Angel Soler on July 21, 2017, in Nassau County. Soler’s body was mutilated, bearing injuries consistent with the use of a machete, and he suffered blunt force trauma to the head. He was left buried until his remains were discovered on October 19 in a remote wooden area in Roosevelt, just south of the Southern State Parkway, and cement was poured over his body.
As alleged in the indictment, on three separate occasions, several of the defendants conspired to commit murder. The murders were to take place in Nassau County, New York, Elizabeth, New Jersey and Prince George’s County, Maryland, but the attempts were thwarted by law enforcement officials, thereby saving lives. According to the indictment, on July 19, 2017, defendants Kevin Cuevas Del Cid a/k/a “Creeper” and Augustine Benitez a/k/a “Olvidado” conspired to lure a victim into the woods in the Roosevelt/Freeport, NY area with the promise of marijuana – and intended to kill him.
The following day, working with NCPD and Homeland Security, Cuevas Del Cid was apprehended and detained in the Glen Cove area at his landscaping job.
On September 26, 2017, one high-ranking defendant allegedly instructed defendant Ever Morales Lopez a/k/a “Lenky” to meet Edgar Orellana Saravia a/k/a “Chavi” in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The defendants were allegedly sent to do reconnaissance – including choosing a suitable location to commit the murder of a rival gang member and determining if cameras were nearby. The defendants allegedly discussed where to dispose the victim’s body and how deep to dig the hole.
Working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lopez and Saravia were apprehended in New Jersey on September 30, 2017.
On September 29, 2017, a gang member allegedly instructed “Olvidado” to recruit members of their clique on Long Island to kill another individual in Maryland, who was believed was cooperating with law enforcement.
Working with law enforcement in Maryland the murder was thwarted.
Although this case began as a narcotic trafficking investigation, the MS-13 Gang’s proclivity for violence was quickly realized, and the investigation adapted accordingly. Nevertheless, it was clear that the heroin and cocaine trafficking were profitable to the gang and necessary for their existence.
This seven-month long investigation revealed that kilograms of heroin were allegedly moved internationally by the Sailors Clique regional director of the Eastern United States and his associate who conducted business from a Mississippi prison. Approximately four kilograms of heroin were seized, with evidence of additional kilograms reaching U.S. soil and being distributed by the gang at the kilogram level, the street value of which is approximately a million dollars.
Multiple counts in the indictment allege the trafficking of heroin and cocaine for profit. Several of the defendants allegedly obtained, picked up and/or sold narcotics in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Bronx County, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Long Branch, New Jersey; and Jefferson County, Texas.
Cocaine, packaging materials, a loaded firearm, a large hunting knife, machete, as well as ledger books and gang paraphernalia were also seized during the investigation.
Additionally, based on information gathered in this case, the NCDA assisted law enforcement in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with the arrest of individuals for two murders.
On June 1, 2017, alleged members of the MS-13 Sailor Clique in the Langley Park, Maryland, area shot and killed William Hermones Canales, an El Salvadorian National, during a random street encounter in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
The DEA and NCDA learned about the shooting and subsequent escape, and learned of the whereabouts of the perpetrators and the efforts that were taken by gang members to relocate the individuals responsible for the homicide. On June 5, 2017, Prince George’s County Police Department, with the assistance of the DEA and FBI, executed a state search warrant, and arrest warrants, and arrested four alleged MS-13 suspects in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Defendant Rolando Aristides Juarez-Vazquez a/k/a Virus was charged with 1st and 2nd Degree Murder; Jimmy Alexander Villalobos-Gomez a/k/a Duchy and Omar Alexis Iglesias-Gamero a/k/a Inframundo were charged with Accessory After the Fact; and Omar Alexi Campos a/k/a Media Vida was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Harboring a Fugitive with the Intent to Prevent His Discovery and Arrest. All four arrested are alleged to be MS-13 gang members and are El Salvadorian Nationals, and are currently being prosecuted in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
On September 16, 2017, three alleged MS-13 members of the Sailors Clique murdered a rival gang member in Riverdale, Maryland. Three defendants Kevin Alexander Soriana-Hernandez a/k/a Brosha, an El Salvadorian National; Carlos Daniel Cardenas-Banegas a/k/a Perrico, a Honduran National; and Wilfredo Cardenas-Banegas a/k/a Torro, a Honduran National, were arrested by members of the Prince George’s County Police Department and DEA based on intelligence gathered by the NCDA. The defendants are currently being prosecuted in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
The Nassau County District Attorney thanks the following agencies for their assistance in this investigation:
The case is being prosecuted by members of the Special Operations, Narcotics and Gang Bureau.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.