11 MS-13 Gang Members Charged in Superseding Indictment

11 MS-13 Gang Members Charged in Superseding Indictment with Racketeering, Narcotics and Firearms Offenses

Four Defendants Also Charged with the Murder of a Far Rockaway Mother Whose Body Was Found in the Trunk of Car

(STL.News) Earlier today, a superseding indictment was unsealed in federal court in Central Islip charging 11 members of the violent transnational criminal organization La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13, with racketeering conspiracy, including predicate racketeering acts involving murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, witness tampering and witness retaliation, and related narcotics and firearms offenses.  Four of the defendants were charged with committing the April 11, 2021 murder of Nazareth Claure in Far Rockaway, New York, whose body was recovered from the trunk of a car.

Three of the defendants – Onan Garcia-Lopez, also known as “Demente,” David Alberto Orantez-Gonzalez, also known as “Carlos Rodriguez-Gonzalez” and “Casper,” and Carlos Torres-Alfaro, also known as “Solitario,” – were arrested today and will be arraigned this afternoon by United States Magistrate Judge Steven I. Locke.

The other eight defendants, Billy Ayala-Pineda, also known as “Berdugo,” and Wilian Estiven Sanchez-Perez, also known as “Maniako,” who were charged in the underlying indictment, and Anander Henriquez-Avila, also known as “Cara Papa” and “El Papa,” Allan Lopez-Villeda, also known as “Serio,” and “Casper,” Carlos Ramirez-Portillo, also known as “Chino” and “Siniestro,” Jose Sarmiento-Valeriano, also known as “David,” Henry Vasquez-Padilla, also known as “Trece,” Rigel Yohario Velasquez-Mancia, also known as “E,” were already in federal and state custody and will be arraigned at a later date.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY); Ricky J. Patel, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI); Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD); and John J. Durham, Director, Joint Task Force Vulcan, announced the arrests and charges in the superseding indictment.

“The significant federal charges in the superseding indictment, including the brutal murder of a mother whose body was wrapped in trash bags, underscores the cruel depravity and senseless violence of the MS-13 gang,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “With this indictment and additional arrests, this Office has taken another step in seeking justice for the murder victim and her family, and we will not rest until the threat of the MS-13 gang is eliminated for good from our communities.”

Mr. Peace also thanked the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the Nassau County Police Department, the United States Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force, and the Border Enforcement Security Task Force of HSI Boston for their work on the investigations.

“As alleged, the savagery and brutality of the crimes committed by some of the individuals named in the indictment is beyond comprehension and involves the murder of young woman, who was wrapped in a plastic bag and placed in the trunk of a car like an object instead of a young mother and human being,” said Homeland Security Investigations, Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel.  “Today’s superseding indictment and arrests send a clear message that violent gang members who commit such deplorable and cowardly crimes against humanity will be tracked down and held accountable for their actions.  HSI New York’s Transnational Violent Gangs Task Force, working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners will continue to tirelessly pursue the most dangerous offenders and bring them to justice.”

“Today’s announcement highlights the NYPD’s commitment to working with all of its law enforcement partners to dismantle transnational criminal organizations like MS-13, which routinely use violence and intimidation to prey upon vulnerable communities,” said NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “By contributing our unique capabilities to this joint effort, the NYPD continues to remove vicious gang members from the streets of New York and protect the people we serve from the unthinkable harm alleged in this indictment.”

As alleged in the superseding indictment, MS-13 is a transnational criminal organization composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, but also includes members from other countries such as Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.  Although the gang originated in Los Angeles, California, it quickly spread and is now a national and international criminal organization with an estimated 10,000+ members regularly conducting gang activities in nearly all of the United States, including New York, and in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

MS-13 cliques are organized together under umbrella groups, called “Programs.” Cliques within a Program were responsible for assisting one another with firearms, drug trafficking connections, territorial disputes with rival gangs, and providing safe havens for members who were wanted by law enforcement.  One of the MS-13 Programs operating in the United States is the Los Angeles Program (or “LA Program”).

As further alleged in the superseding indictment, Ayala-Pineda, who was charged in the underlying indictment and arrested on December 15, 2021, was the highest-ranking member (or “First Word”) of the Surenos Locos Salvatruchas (“SLS”) clique operating in Queens and Long Island, New York and a leader of the LA Program operating in the United States. Ayala-Pineda directed the SLS clique’s drug trafficking activity, acts of violence committed against rival gang members and against members and associates of the gang who Ayala-Pineda deemed to have been disloyal to the gang, and the SLS clique’s acquisition of firearms. The other ten defendants all were members and associates of the MS-13 and involved in trafficking narcotics and committing acts of violence in furtherance of the gang’s objectives in conjunction with the SLS clique.

All 11 defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy for their participation in MS-13 crimes, including murder, robbery, witness tampering, witness retaliation, drug trafficking, and related conspiracy, attempt and firearms offenses. In addition, Henriquez-Avila, Lopez-Villeda, Sarmiento-Valeriano, and Velasquez-Mancia, are charged with the murder of Claure, on or about April 11, 2021 in Queens, New York. In the early morning hours of April 13, 2021, Lopez-Villeda, Sarmiento-Valeriano, and Velasquez-Mancia were pulled over during a car stop by the NYPD and HSI in Queens, New York. Ms. Claure’s body was discovered in the trunk of the car wrapped in trash bags. In addition to the murder, the Indictment charges all the defendants with conspiring to distribute cocaine, oxycodone, and marijuana, as well as their use and possession of firearms in furtherance of their narcotics trafficking. These charges stem from the MS-13 clique’s street-level sales of narcotics on Long Island, the proceeds of which were used to help finance the MS-13’s criminal operations, which is evidenced by financial records of money sent back to El Salvador and Mexico.

Today’s superseding indictment is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent, transnational criminal organization. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States. With numerous branches, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the most violent criminal organization on Long Island. Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges for participating in murders, attempted murders and assaults. Since 2010, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 60 murders in the Eastern District of New York, and has convicted more than 100 MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders.

This superseding indictment is the product of coordination between EDNY and Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), which was created in August 2019 as a whole-of-government approach to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, such as MS-13.Since its creation, JTFV has successfully increased coordination and collaboration with foreign law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala; designating priority MS-13 programs, cliques and leaders, who have the most impact on the United States, for targeted prosecutions; and coordinating significant MS-13 indictments in U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the first use of national security charges against MS-13 leaders in El Salvador. JTFV has been comprised of members from U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the EDNY; the Southern District of New York; the District of New Jersey; the Northern District of Ohio; the District of Utah; the Eastern District of Virginia; the District of Massachusetts; the Eastern District of Texas; the District of Alaska; the Southern District of Florida; the Southern District of California; the District of Nevada; and the District of Columbia, as well as the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the Criminal Division. In addition, all Department of Justice law enforcement agencies are involved in the effort, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. In addition, HSI also plays a critical role in JTFV.

The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison, and the four defendants charged with the Claure murder are eligible for the death penalty.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Warren from JTFV and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul G. Scotti, Justina L. Geraci and Megan E. Farrell from the EDNY’s Long Island Criminal Division.  The charges in the Superseding Indictment were investigated by the Violent Gang Task Force of HSI and the NYPD.

The Defendants:

Billy Ayala-Pineda (“Berdugo”)
Age: 31
Long Island, New York

Onan Garcia-Lopez (“Demente”)
Age: 20
Long Island, New York

Anander Henriquez-Avila (“Cara Papa” and “El Papa”)
Age: 29
Queens, New York

Allan Lopez-Villeda (“Serio”)
Age: 23
Queens, New York

David Alberto Orantes-Gonzalez (“Carlos Rodriguez Gonzalez” and “Casper”)
Age: 24
Queens, New York

Carlos Ramirez-Portillo (“Chino”)
Age: 21
Queens, New York

Wilian Estiven Sanchez-Perez (“Maniako”)
Age: 21
Queens, New York

Jose Sarmiento-Valeriano (“David”)
Age: 22
Long Island, New York

Carlos Torres-Alfaro (“Solitario”)
Age: 20
Queens, New York

Henry Vasquez-Padilla (“Trece”)
Age: 26
Queens, New York

Rigel Yohairo Velasquez-Mancia (“E”)
Age: 21
Queens, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No.: 21-CR-635 (S-1)(JMA)

SOURCE: USDOJ.Today