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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 30, 2018

18th Street Gang Members Indicted for Murder Conspiracy and Murder of Ms-13 Gang Rival in Queens

A superseding indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn, charging 18th Street gang members and associates Yanki Misael Cruz-Mateo, Yoni Alexander Sierra, Jose Jimenez Chacon and Saudi Levy Ramirez, with the February 2, 2018 murder and murder conspiracy of a member of the rival MS-13 gang.  Cruz-Mateo also faces firearms-related charges.  The defendants were arraigned this afternoon before United States District Judge LaShaan DeArcy Hall.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Richard A. Brown, District Attorney of Queens County, and James P. O’Neil, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the superseding indictment.

“As alleged in the superseding indictment, the defendants are charged with murdering a suspected rival MS-13 member.  We will continue to work with our state and local partners to break this senseless cycle of violence by eradicating all violent street gangs that threaten our communities,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.

“Our outstanding partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are again showing results, and proving we are all in this together to rid communities of all criminal gangs,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “The investigators have shown their dedication to each and every case they discover, because no one deserves to die at the hands of these violent groups.  The FBI New York Metro Safe Streets Task Force won’t let these rival gangs use our neighborhoods for their turf war.”

“This indictment is another example of law enforcement working together to eliminate gang violence.  The defendants in this case are accused of carrying out the merciless execution of a rival gang member,” stated Queens District Attorney Brown.  “Gang warfare in our City streets puts every man, woman and child in danger.  We will not tolerate violent street gangs turning our neighborhoods into killing fields.  My office will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to rid our communities of this kind of violence and brutality.”

“The magnitude of violence exhibited in this case will not be tolerated,” said NYPD Police Commissioner O’Neill. “These individuals would not be facing arraignment today without the collaboration between law enforcement and the public to stop and prevent violence.”

As alleged in the superseding indictment and detailed in court filings, the defendants are members and associates of the Jamaica, Queens and Kingston, New York chapters of the violent street gang 18th Street.  On the night of February 2, 2018, a victim, known to the grand jury as John Doe 2, was discovered in the vicinity of 160th Street and 85th Avenue in the Jamaica Hills section of Queens.  The victim had been shot multiple times in the head and torso.  Several days after the murder, Cruz-Mateo admitted in text messages to shooting the victim because he believed the victim was a member of the rival MS-13 gang.  Sierra, Chacon and Ramirez are  charged with the murder conspiracy of John Doe 2, along with Cruz-Mateo.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan P. Lax and Soumya Dayananda are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

YANKI MISAEL CRUZ-MATEO (also known as “Yankee Mateo,” “Doggy” and “Wino”)
Age: 19
Jamaica, New York

YONI ALEXANDER SIERRA (also known as “Arca,” “Arca Angel” and “Wasson”)
Age: 20
Queens, New York

JOSE JIMENEZ CHACON (also known as “Little One”)
Age: 20
New Brunswick, NJ

SAUDI LEVY RAMIREZ (also known as “El Malo” and “Little Bad”)
Age: 25
Queens, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-139 (S-1) (LDH)

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Contact: 
John Marzulli Tyler Daniels United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated May 1, 2018