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Posted on: January 23, 2023

MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty, on Eve of Trial, to Roles in Queens and Nassau Murders

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Carlos Guerra – a member of Normandie clique of MS-13 – participated in December 2018 killings of Ian Cruz in Far Rockaway and Harold Sermeno in Lawrence; victims allegedly disrespected gang before their deaths 

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that a Far Rockaway MS-13 member pleaded guilty today during jury selection to his role in two killings on the Nassau and Queens border in December 2018. 

Carlos Guerra, 22, pleaded guilty to two counts of Manslaughter in the First Degree (a B violent felony) and two counts of Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony) before Judge Tammy Robbins. The defendant is due back in court on March 7, 2023, and is expected to be sentenced to a total of 28 years in prison. 

Co-defendants and fellow gang members Yonathan Sanchez, a/k/a Turbo, and Elmer Gutierrez, a/k/a Revolver, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of conspiracy. Sanchez was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison in July 2020 and Gutierrez was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in August 2021. 

A defendant who was 15 at the time of the incidents also pleaded guilty to one count of Murder in the Second Degree and is expected to be sentenced to 8-1/2 years to life in prison. The cases against two juveniles, a male and female, are also pending.

“Carlos Guerra and his co-defendants murdered two young men – within three days of each other – to move up the ranks of MS-13,” DA Donnelly said. “The victims in this case made the mistake of allegedly disrespecting MS-13 and were marked for death. Thanks to remarkably quick detective work in Nassau County and New York City the defendants were arrested just days after the murders. I thank our many law enforcement partners that helped bring these violent gang members to justice.”

DA Donnelly 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 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 knives. Sanchez 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, photographs of Cruz allegedly disrespecting MS-13 were circulated among the defendants, and they conspired to murder the man. 

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, 2018, 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 shot Sermeno four times in the head and once in the chest with a .22 revolver. Gutierrez sliced the victim’s neck with a machete. 

The six defendants – members of the MS-13 Normandie clique – fled to the same apartment in Far Rockaway. 

Sermeno was found the following morning by a person walking a dog. He allegedly disrespected MS-13 during a phone call before his murder.  

Police officers recovered the machete that was used in the murder of Sermeno and a .22 caliber revolver that was used in both murders at the Nameoke apartment. 

Sanchez, Guerra, Gutierrez and two juveniles were arrested on December 19, 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 NCDA thanks the New York City 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 Litigation Counsel Stefanie Palma of the Homicide Bureau is prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented by Jeff Groder, Esq.

The charges against the two remaining defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty. 



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