Former MS-13 Gang Leader in Queens Indicted for Murder in-Aid-of Racketeering
Defendant Allegedly Ordered the Killing of a Rival Gang Member
An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Marcelo Esquivel with murder in-aid-of racketeering and causing death through the use of a firearm in connection with the fatal shooting of Daniel Licona-Gonzalez on July 2, 2012. At the time of the murder, Esquivel was the leader of the Centrales Locos Salvatruchas clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13, a transnational criminal organization, in Jamaica, Queens. Esquivel was arrested yesterday and will be arraigned this afternoon via teleconference before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.
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), Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“As alleged, Esquivel ordered the murder of another human being in furtherance of the vicious code of the MS-13 gang, and the life of an 18-year-old man was ended by co-conspirators carrying out the defendant’s death wish,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The Eastern District will continue to do everything possible to crush the MS-13 and Esquivel’s arrest sends a powerful message that the passage of time will not deter this Office and our law enforcement partners from investigating, prosecuting and holding accountable anyone who commits violent crimes on behalf of the gang.”
“A man standing in the street was shot in the head, and later died because two members of MS-13 sought out a twisted type of gravitas in their violent gang,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “The men rode a bicycle to carry out their orders allegedly given by Mr. Esquivel, an oddly childlike behavior with deadly consequences. Our FBI New York Metro Safe Streets Task Force is determined to pursue the leaders of this despicable gang, regardless of how much time has passed since their crimes took place.”
“As an MS-13 gang leader, Esquivel allegedly used his authority to order a hit on a rival gang member. Using the gun allegedly provided by Esquivel, two MS-13 gang members took the life of another human being,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh. “A human life is a human life, regardless of gang affiliation, and gang on gang violence will not be tolerated. HSI will continue to collaborate with the FBI and NYPD to take murderers off the street and try to bring some solace to the victims’ families.”
“Our NYPD investigators, with our state and federal partners, as shown in this case will relentlessly seek justice against gangs no matter when or where their brutal violence is carried out,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
As set forth in court filings, on July 2, 2012, Esquivel directed two MS-13 members to murder a member of the rival Latin Kings gang and provided them with a gun. Coconspirator-1 was a new member of the gang and hoped to earn respect within the gang by carrying out an act of violence. Coconspirator-1 and Coconspirator-2 then set out on a bicycle to find a Latin King to murder. Coconspirator-2 rode the bicycle and Coconspirator-1 stood on the bicycle’s back pegs. They went to a location that they understood was Latin Kings’ territory to find their target. In the vicinity of Lowe Court and 149th Street in Jamaica, they saw a group of men that they believed were Latin Kings. One of the Coconspirators yelled, “La Mara,” a reference to his gang, and shot Licona-Gonzalez in the head. The victim died the following day.
Today’s charges are 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. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador and Honduras, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States, comprised primarily of immigrants from Central America. Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges for participating in murders, attempted murders and assaults. Since 2010, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 45 murders in the district and has convicted dozens of MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by our law enforcement partners.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted, Esquivel faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment and is eligible for the death penalty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorney Nadia E. Moore is in charge of the prosecution.
MARCELO ESQUIVEL (also known as “Profugo” and “Baby”)
Jamaica, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No.: 20-CR-250 (MJB)