News and Press Releases

Member of MS-13,violent Long Island Street Gang, Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Murder

January 4, 2007

Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced that LEONEL MEJIA, also known as “Little Chino,” a member of the La Mara Salvatrucha (“MS-13”) street gang on Long Island, was sentenced today to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the September 13, 2003 murder of 19-year-old Edgardo Sanchez in North Massapequa, New York. On April 19, 2006, following two weeks of trial, a federal jury on Long Island convicted MEJIA on all counts relating to the murder of Sanchez. The sentencing proceeding was held before United States District Judge Leonard D. Wexler at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

The evidence at trial established that MEJIA was a member of the Far Rockaway and Hempstead chapters of the MS-13, and that MEJIA murdered Sanchez, himself a Hempstead MS-13 member, because MEJIA and fellow gang members discovered that Sanchez had provided the Nassau County Police Department with information leading to the arrests of six Freeport and Hempstead MS-13 members in 2003, on charges of murder and other violent crimes.

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message to those who are willing to murder on behalf of a gang: do so and you risk spending the rest of your life in prison,” stated United States Attorney Mauskopf. “Eliminating gang violence in our communities is one of our highest priorities, and we will continue to devote all available resources to this effort.” Ms. Mauskopf praised the work of the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force and the New York State Police in the investigation, and thanked the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office for its cooperation.

The MS-13 is a violent international street gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, many of whom are in the United States illegally. With hundreds of members locally, the MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island. Over the past two years, more than 30 members of the MS-13 have been convicted on federal felony charges in this district.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard Donoghue and James McGovern.

The Defendant:

DOB: 6/15/84


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