MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced today that 41 alleged members of the MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) gang have been indicted by a grand jury for multiple acts of violence and conspiracy in Nassau County over the last four years.
The 41 defendants are charged with various crimes in the 85-count indictment, including Conspiracy in the 1st Degree (an A-I felony), Conspiracy in the 2nd degree (a B felony), Attempted Murder in the 2nd Degree (a B violent felony), as well as assault, weapons possession and other related charges. Thirty-five of the defendants face up to 25 years to life in prison on if convicted on the top charge.
“MS-13 has terrorized communities, killed innocent people, and stolen the childhoods of the vulnerable young people they recruit to join their ranks,” said DA Singas. “Today’s arrests, along with targeted multi-jurisdictional efforts of our local, state, and federal partners will make our communities safer and we will be unrelenting in our efforts to stop MS-13 from recruiting in our schools and spilling blood in our neighborhoods. I thank our partners for their outstanding work on this operation.”
“The apprehension of these suspected MS-13 Gang members is yet another example of the collaborative effort of numerous Law Enforcement Jurisdictions as an operation of this magnitude could not have been completed if it were not for the combined efforts of numerous partners. It is our intention to continue to create a safe living environment for families and their children which is free from any interference of gangs and Nassau County will not accept anything less,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.
“MS-13 is an exceptionally violent organization, whose members will not hesitate to commit heinous crimes in furtherance of the gang’s criminal objectives,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York. “These arrests are yet another positive step towards eliminating the intimidation, fear and violence perpetrated against the public at large by these gangs who often prey upon members of their community. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will spare no effort to disrupt and dismantle this gang and to bring the perpetrators of gang violence to justice.”
DA Singas said that immediately after a December 2016 takedown of alleged members of the Salvadorians with Pride gang, members of the Nassau County Police Department Gang Investigation Squad and the NCDA Special Operations, Narcotics and Gangs Bureau dedicated additional resources to a broad investigation into MS-13.
Analyzing approximately a dozen historic incidents involving alleged MS-13 members, the police officers and prosecutors approached formerly reluctant witnesses and victims seeking information about gang activities. As the investigation progressed, it was discovered that 32 separate acts of violence in Nassau County can allegedly be attributed to the indicted defendants.
During the investigation, it was established that a person seeking to be a member of MS-13 must be “jumped in,” which involves the candidate being beaten about the body and torso by initiated members for at least 13 seconds.
The candidates that are accepted must then pledge to “put in work” at the direction of older members of the gang. These acts include assaults, stabbings, shootings and other acts of violence. The candidate must also agree to kill someone if called upon to do so and this agreement is required for membership.
Based on earlier NCDA investigations, recruitment for MS-13 starts as early as middle school, with several juvenile respondents having their cases resolved in Family Court within the last year.
Typically, a group of gang members will surround the child they are looking to recruit. Gang members ask them what gang they already belong to and then will yell and threaten the child that they must join MS-13. In many occasions, the child breaks away and heads home, but this technique is frequently repeated until the child gives in and joins. MS-13 members will flash machetes and guns to kids they are looking to intimidate and recruit, and will threaten physical harm to them and their families.
As alleged in the indictment, the 32 violent incidents and conspiracy counts span more than four years, from March 31, 2013 through June 2, 2017.
According to the indictment, there are eight charges of attempted murder involving 14 defendants.
In one instance, six indicted defendants approached four victims playing soccer at Hempstead Lake Park in May 2016. The defendants approached, surrounded the victims, identified themselves as member of MS-13 and then attacked the four victims with large knives and machetes, repeatedly slashing the victims.
Multiple incidents alleged in the indictment include the use of a machete or handgun.
As alleged in the indictment, there were 13 violent incidents in Hempstead, nine in Uniondale, four in Westbury, three in Inwood and elsewhere in the county.
According to Homeland Security, seventeen of the indicted defendants entered the country as un-accompanied children.
The defendants were arrested by members of the Nassau County Police Department, Homeland Security and Hempstead Police Department. The District Attorney also thanks the New York State Park Police for its 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.
Defendants Arraigned Addendum:
Jose Barahona 05/20/97
Bryan Bonilla 05/20/97
Christian Jimenez 10/27/97
Pedro Romero 01/27/96
Jaime Reyes 04/07/97
Jeustin David Maldonado 07/10/99
Luis Mancia 03/22/96
Franklin Moronta 12/04/97
Kelvin Lopez-Herrera 10/03/90
Francisco Samuel Romero 12/30/98
Evilson Edgardo Orellana 07/13/97
Cesar David Avila Rodriguez 09/28/99
Marlon Reyes 01/24/98
Christian Chavez 05/03/97
Miguel Urias Argueta 09/25/98
Jose Hernandez 05/25/91
Fidel Hernandez 05/25/91
Johanna Barriga 11/22/93