MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that six alleged MS-13 members have been indicted by a Nassau County grand jury for their roles in two homicides – in Far Rockaway, Queens County, and Lawrence, Nassau County – in December 2018.
Under New York State Criminal Procedure Law, an offense committed within five hundred yards of the boundary of a particular county, and in an adjoining county of New York State, may be prosecuted in either county.
Yonathan Sanchez, 22, a/k/a Turbo, and Carlos Guerra, 18, both of Far Rockaway, are charged with:
The defendants were arraigned on April 8 before Judge Tammy Robbins and remanded. They are both due back in court on May 2 and face up to 130 years to life in prison if convicted of the top charge.
Elmer Gutierrez, 19, a/k/a Revolver, of Valley Stream, is charged with:
The defendant was arraigned on April 17 before Judge Tammy Robbins and remanded. He is due back in court May 2 and faces up to 90 years to life in prison.
Three juveniles – two 15-year old males and a 13-year old female – were also indicted by the grand jury for their alleged roles in the homicides. One 15-year old male and the 13-year old female allegedly participated in the Far Rockaway homicide and are charged with Murder in the Second Degree for that incident. All three juveniles are charged with Murder in the Second Degree for the Lawrence incident. Their cases will be prosecuted in Youth Court.
“These defendants allegedly targeted two young Far Rockaway men, lured them to local parks and ruthlessly murdered them due to perceived slights and to gain status in MS-13,” DA Singas said. “This case is particularly tragic because two families have lost their sons, and three juveniles are alleged to have participated in these murders. Due to extraordinary police work and collaboration, we were able to arrest these defendants and stop this murderous crime spree.”
Queens County District Attorney’s Office Chief Assistant District Attorney John M. Ryan said, “Gangs do not respect human life. They don’t respect each other, and they certainly do not respect geographical boundaries and border lines. We have two horrific incidents where young men were allegedly lured to their deaths by younger individuals and then pounced upon by reputed MS-13 gang members. The victims were viciously killed within days of each other and just miles apart. One homicide occurred in Queens County and the other in Nassau County. To seek justice for the 17-year-old and 23-year-old victims, we felt the two cases would be more effectively prosecuted in one county. The Queens homicide occurred just 500 yards from the border we share with Nassau County. Therefore, allowing our colleagues at the Nassau District Attorney’s Office to prosecute both cases, we believe will be the best way to achieve justice for the families of both victims.”
Nassau County Commissioner of Police Patrick Ryder said: “Over the past several months since victim Harold Sermeno was murdered, the Nassau County Police Department working collaboratively with the New York City Police Department, the Nassau District Attorney’s Office and the Queens District Attorney’s Office, have been able to effect the arrests of six defendants on two separate murders. This is a prime example of superior coordination of law enforcement agencies and the investigators assigned to the cases. I would like to congratulate all who brought this case to a positive conclusion and stress that the Nassau County Police will continue our zero-tolerance approach toward all illegal gangs, as this approach will continue to create safer gang free communities for our residents.”
DA Singas said that, according to the indictment, on December 15, 2018, 23-year old Far Rockaway resident Ian Cruz, a perceived enemy of MS-13, was lured to Bayswater Point State Park in Far Rockaway with the promise of drugs and sex. The victim allegedly met the female defendant and then walked to the park, while Sanchez, Guerra and a 15-year old male defendant hid in the park armed with a gun and knives. Sanchez allegedly emerged from the bushes and shot Cruz four times in the head with a .22 caliber revolver. The defendants took Cruz’s belongings and fled to a Nameoke Street apartment where Sanchez and Guerra lived.
Prior to the murder, the defendants allegedly planned Cruz’s murder and photographs of Cruz allegedly disrespecting MS-13 were circulated among them.
Cruz was found by a park-goer the following day, in his underwear and on top of a blanket.
On the evening of December 17, victim Harold Sermeno, 17, of Far Rockaway, was lured to the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence. The victim and the female defendant arrived at a park on the property and began to drink and smoke at a picnic table. At that point, the five other defendants, armed with a gun and knives, waited in strategic areas in the park. Sanchez then emerged and allegedly shot Sermeno four times in the head and once in the chest with a .22 revolver. Gutierrez allegedly sliced the victim’s neck with a machete.
The six defendants then allegedly fled to the same apartment in Far Rockaway.
Sermeno was found the following morning by a person walking a dog.
Police officers recovered the machete that was allegedly used in the murder of Sermeno and a .22 caliber revolver that was allegedly used in both murders at the Nameoke apartment.
Sanchez, Guerra, Gutierrez and two juveniles were arrested on December 20, 2018 in Far Rockaway by members of the NYPD. The sixth defendant, a juvenile, was arrested on December 28, 2018, by members of the NYPD and NCPD.
The District Attorney thanks the New York Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Queens County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for their assistance in this case.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma of DA Singas’ Major Offense is prosecuting this case. Sanchez is represented by Michael Horn, Esq. Guerra is represented by Jeff Groder, Esq. and, Gutierrez is represented by Greg Madey, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.