News and Press Releases

MS-13 Gang Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison

April 22, 2010

Defendant Participated in Murder of 15-Year-Old Queens Boy on Christmas Eve 2006

Earlier this morning, Luis Bonilla, also known as “Chofre,” a leader of the international MS-13 street gang, was sentenced to life imprisonment by United States District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr., at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Bonilla previously pleaded guilty to racketeering, including predicate acts of murder and attempted murder.

The sentencing was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

As detailed in the superseding indictment and other court filings by the government, Bonilla was the leader the Jamaica, New York, set of MS-13, also known as “La Mara Salvatrucha,” and engaged in a series of violent crimes, including conspiracy to murder and assault members of rival gangs, such as the Crips, the Bloods, and the Latin Kings. At his guilty plea proceeding, Bonilla admitted that, acting upon a request from another gang leader, he instructed two MS-13 soldiers to locate and kill rival gang members. Bonilla also provided them with the murder weapon. A short time later, during the early morning hours of Christmas Eve day 2006, one of the soldiers, Hector Portillo, also known as “Angel,” and a second gang member approached a group of youths whom they suspected to be members of the rival Bloods street gang. Portillo shot Pashad Gray multiple times at close range. Gray died of his wounds.

“Today, another leader of MS-13 was brought to justice for committing senseless acts of violence,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “Gangs are on notice: we will continue to prosecute organized street crime to the fullest extent of the law.” Mr. Campbell extended his grateful appreciation to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department, and the New York City Department of Probation for their assistance in this case.

MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island. Over the past five years, investigations by the United States Attorney’s Office, ICE, the FBI, and the NYPD have solved multiple murders on Long Island and in New York City, and resulted in felony convictions of more than a dozen MS-13 leaders and 120 MS-13 soldiers.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jason A. Jones, Ali Kazemi, and Marshall L. Miller.

The Defendant:

Name: LUIS BONILLA, also known as “Chofre”
Age: 23


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