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Press Release

Additional Ms-13 Gang Member Indicted For Murder Of 19-Year-Old Man In Long Island

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Defendant Lured Victim From Queens To Long Island And Then Shot Him, Believing Victim Was Cooperating With Law Enforcement



Earlier today, a superseding indictment was unsealed charging the defendant, Milton Contreras, along with previously-charged co-defendants, Byron Lopez and Oscar Welman Espinoza-Merino, with conspiracy to commit murder in-aid-of racketeering, murder in-aid-of racketeering, obstruction-of-justice murder, and firearms offenses1. If convicted, the defendant will face mandatory life imprisonment. Contreras, who was arrested this morning in Kansas City, Kansas, will be presented for arraignment later today at the United States Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas.

The charges and arrest were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Anthony Scandiffio, Deputy Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI); Delano A. Reid, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms, New York Field Division (ATF); and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

“With this arrest, the Office brings another member of the MS-13 gang to justice for a brutal murder in one of our communities last year. The prosecution of these three defendants is a part of the Office’s ongoing commitment to dismantle MS-13, which for years has fomented violence and lawlessness in neighborhoods throughout Queens and Long Island.” Ms. Lynch thanked the Suffolk County Police Department for its assistance with the investigation; the United States Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force for its assistance in locating Contreras; and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas for its assistance with the arraignment.

As alleged in court documents, Contreras is a member of the Brentwood, Long Island chapter of the violent street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as “MS-13.” On February 25, 2014, Contreras, Espinoza-Merino, and Lopez directed the victim, fellow gang member Sidney Valverde, to travel to Long Island under the false pretense that they needed him to assist in gang business there. In fact, the co-conspirators planned to kill Valverde because they believed that he was providing information about the gang’s activities to federal law enforcement. After Valverde traveled to Long Island, the co-conspirators shot him in the back of the head and left his body on Miller Place Beach in Suffolk County, where it was discovered by a beachcomber approximately two weeks later.

The indictment of Contreras 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 international street gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras. With numerous chapters, or “cliques,” throughout the United States, MS-13 has a significant presence in Queens and is the largest street gang in Long Island. Since 2003, more than 250 MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. More than 150 of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges. Since 2010 alone, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 20 murders in the Eastern District of New York and has convicted more than 35 MS-13 members in connection with those murders.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Darren A. LaVerne and Alixandra E. Smith.

The Defendant:

MILTON CONTRERAS, also known as “Diabolico”

Age: 19


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

Updated September 6, 2016

Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime