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Posted on: October 17, 2022

MS-13 Clique Leader Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for 2017 Hempstead Murder

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Ramon Martines, A/K/A, Cruzito, was leader of Hempstead clique of MS-13; ordered killing of 39-year-old victim 

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that an MS-13 leader was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for conspiring and participating in the killing of a 39-year-old man, perceived to be an enemy of the gang, in March 2017 in Hempstead.

Ramon Martines, 39, a/k/a/ Cruzito, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty on September 15, 2022, before Judge Terence Murphy to Manslaughter in the First Degree (a B violent felony) and Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony). The defendant was sentenced today to 25 years in prison. 

“As the leader of a local MS-13 clique in Hempstead, this defendant exercised his control by sanctioning the senseless murder of a 39-year-old man as he left work because the defendant perceived him to be an enemy and member of a rival gang,” said DA Donnelly. “Tragically, that was not the case, and the man was shot several times and killed. We continue to aggressively pursue cases against MS-13 members and their leaders, remove these dangerous actors from our streets, and keep our communities safe.” 

DA Donnelly said that on March 20, 2017, the defendant – the former head of the Hempstead Locos Salvatrucha clique of MS-13 on Long Island – acting in concert with others drove from Uniondale to Hempstead looking for a member of the rival 14th Street gang to shoot and kill in retaliation for an assault on an MS-13 member.

The group circled the area several times searching for a member of the 14th Street gang.  Eventually, the group spotted the victim, 39-year-old Nelson Rodriguez, of Hempstead, who was walking westbound on Front Street after work at an auto body shop. Though Rodriguez was not a member of the 14th Street gang, defendant Pedro Rivera – who was armed with a gun – was ordered to kill the victim because he was a perceived enemy of MS-13. As the then-leader of the clique, the murder was sanctioned by the defendant.

Rivera exited the vehicle and began walking on Front Street towards the victim.  Rivera passed Rodriguez and then turned around and shot the victim once in the head. After he fell to the ground, Rivera shot him again in the back. 

Multiple witnesses immediately called 911 and the victim was transported to Nassau County University Medical Center where he later died.

Co-defendants Rivera and Carlos Flores were convicted at trial for their roles in the murder and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison on October 1, 2019.

Co-defendant Hector Lazo’s case is pending sentence.

NCDA thanks Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, NCPD Homicide Squad, NCPD Third Precinct, NCPD Electronics Squad and the Social Security Administration for their assistance in this case.

Chief Jared Rosenblatt of the Homicide Bureau and Senior Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hernan prosecuted the case. Martines is represented by Steven Barnwell, Esq.


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