Superseding Indictment Charges Six Ms-13 Members with Murder, Conspiracy, Assault and Armed Robbery
New Charges Include the October 2009 Murder of Rival Gang Member Luis Castro and the September 2010 Murder of Suspected Informant Bayron Vasquez-Nunez
Earlier today, a 27-count superseding indictment was unsealed at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip, New York, charging six members of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13 street gang, with four murders in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, armed robberies, firearms offenses and related conspiracy charges.1 All six defendants are in custody. Edwin Molina, also known as “Trece,” was arrested by members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force yesterday evening and will be arraigned this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bianco. The other five defendants had been arrested previously and were arraigned on a redacted superseding indictment last week.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, and Edward Webber, Acting Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department.
The superseding indictment adds two defendants, Molina and Jonathan Ayala, also known as “Bang Bang,” “Bam Bam” and “Duende,” and eight new counts, including charges of murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, and firearms offenses. Molina, who is a member of the Roosevelt Locos Salvatruchas clique of the MS-13, has been indicted in connection with the October 4, 2009, murder of Luis Castro in Huntington, New York. On that date, Molina and several other MS-13 members stabbed and slashed Castro, who they believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang, to death with a machete and knives and left his body on West Rogues Path in Huntington.
Ayala was indicted in connection with the November 20, 2009, murder of 15-year-old Christopher Hamilton in Brentwood, New York. As detailed in prior court filings, Ayala shot and killed Hamilton with a .22 caliber rifle with a scope outside a house party on American Boulevard in Brentwood. Ayala erroneously believed Hamilton to be a member of a rival gang. Before committing the Hamilton murder, Ayala was an associate of the MS-13 and wanted to become a member of the gang. Shortly after Ayala murdered Hamilton, the MS-13 inducted him into the gang.
Further, the superseding indictment added charges against Jose Alvarenga, also known as “Fosforo,” who was previously indicted in connection with the Hamilton murder, and Hector Torres, also known as “Smiley,” who was previously indicted in connection with the August 31, 2010, murder of Rigoberto Gomez, an MS-13 member believed to be cooperating with local law enforcement authorities, which took place in Brentwood. Alvarenga and Torres were the leaders of the Brentwood Locos Salvatruchas clique of the MS-13. In addition to the Hamilton murder, Alvarenga was charged with murder in aid of racketeering and related charges in connection with the September 9, 2010, murder of Bayron Vasquez-Nunez, which took place near a playground in Brentwood. Alvarenga shot Vasquez-Nunez in the head multiple times with a .357 caliber revolver because the MS-13 believed that Vasquez-Nunez, who was also a member of the gang, had cooperated with local law enforcement authorities in the past.
When Torres was arrested on the initial charges, members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force recovered a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic handgun, with a defaced serial number, 9mm ammunition, .22 caliber ammunition and 12 gauge shotgun shells from Torres. The superseding indictment charges Torres, who was previously convicted of Attempted Robbery in the Second Degree, with being a felon in possession of the handgun and ammunition, and illegal possession of a defaced firearm.
The superseding indictment also contains the charges from the underlying indictment relating to the Gomez murder, which took place in Freeman Avenue Park in Brentwood; a non-fatal shooting that took place on July 24, 2008, in Timberline Park in Brentwood; a February 15, 2009, conspiracy and armed robbery of the Pollo Campero restaurant in Lindenhurst; a December 19, 2009, conspiracy and armed robbery of the Wilson Express Corp., a check-cashing and money transfer business in Patchogue; and a January 20, 2010, conspiracy to rob a McDonald’s restaurant in Smithtown, New York.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. In addition, Alvarenga, Torres and Molina each face mandatory life in prison, or the death penalty. Ayala faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted at trial.
“For years, members of the MS-13 street gang have carried out acts of violence and terrorized communities on Long Island. These charges are particularly egregious because they involve an innocent bystander killed in a case of mistaken identity, and two others targeted because they were believed to be cooperating with law enforcement,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This office and our law enforcement partners, led by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, are committed to combating gang violence on Long Island and will seek justice for the victims of these senseless crimes.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Fedarcyk stated, “The charges in the new indictment are a window into the cold-blooded nature of MS-13. Murders were allegedly committed to silence presumed cooperators or eliminate rivals, and an associate who committed a murder was rewarded by admission to the ranks. But the ruthless violence victimized not just other MS-13 members and rival gang members. In this indictment, as in too many prior instances, MS-13 was responsible for the murder of an innocent bystander. The FBI is determined to put an end to this.”
“Gangs and the violence they commit are devastating to communities in Suffolk. These arrests send a message that those who commit violent crimes will be prosecuted,” said Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Webber. “We look forward to continuing to work with our law enforcement partners to combat gang violence.”
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John J. Durham and Raymond A. Tierney.
The charges announced today are the latest in a series of indictments by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York against members of the MS-13, a violent international street gang. Over the past decade, more than 150 MS-13 members, including the leaders of a number of the MS-13 cliques on Long Island, have been arrested and convicted on federal felony charges in this district, including federal racketeering and murder charges. These prosecutions are the result of investigations led by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI, Suffolk County Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and the Suffolk County Probation Department.
JOSE ALVARENGA (a/k/a “Fosforo”)
JONATHAN AYALA (a/k/a “Bang Bang,” “Bam Bam,” and “Duende”)
FRANCISCO PONCE (a/k/a “Spoiler”)
HECTOR TORRES (a/k/a “Smiley”)
JOYSER VELASQUEZ (a/k/a “Baby Boy”)
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