Long Island Federal Jury Convicts MS-13 Gang Associate of Murder, Racketeering and Assault Charges
Defendant Participated in Murder of Suspected Rival 18th Street Gang Member
A federal jury in Central Islip returned a guilty verdict today against Jose Suarez, an associate of the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside (Sailors) clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13, a transnational criminal organization. Suarez was convicted of racketeering, murder, assault and related conspiracy, firearms and accessory after the fact charges in connection with the January 30, 2017 murder of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla and the shooting of a female employee at a deli in Central Islip, and the December 18, 2016 assault of a man outside a restaurant in Brentwood. The verdict followed a three-week trial before United States Circuit Judge Joseph F. Bianco. When sentenced, Suarez faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
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), Geraldine Hart, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), and Patrick J. Ryder, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), announced the verdict.
“Suarez has been held responsible for the execution-style murder of a suspected gang rival and violent assaults, ruthless crimes that reflect the danger to our communities posed by MS-13,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “By his actions the defendant sought status within the gang, and with today’s verdict, what he has found instead is a mandatory sentence of life in prison. I commend our prosecutors and the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for their outstanding work bringing the defendant to justice and their commitment to eradicating MS-13.”
“MS-13 attacks, assaults and murders simply to be as violent as they can. The gang members associated with this case and Mr. Suarez didn’t give a second thought to the life they took, the harm they caused or the terror they created in a community,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “The partners of the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force are fully committed to collaborating and dedicating all necessary resources as we continue to eradicate violent gang members from our communities.”
“This guilty verdict ensures that a violent MS-13 associate will face life in prison for his heinous crimes dating back to 2016,” stated SCPD Commissioner Hart. “This case highlights the dangers this gang poses and reinforces our need to continue to work with our law enforcement partners to rid our communities of gang violence. I would like to thank the Eastern District of New York and our partners at the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for their partnership and perseverance in holding gang members and their associates accountable for their crimes.”
“The combined efforts of associated law enforcement agencies and its dedicated investigators bring to justice defendant Jose Suarez, thus ending a wave of terror by way of the murder of one individual and assaults of two others,” stated NCPD Commissioner Ryder. “This conviction removes another MS-13 gang member from the streets of Nassau County and its communities, thus making them a safer place. We will continue our zero tolerance approach to end all illegal gang activity. Congratulations to all for a job well done.”
The evidence at trial established that, on January 30, 2017, a member of the Sailors clique saw Alvarado-Bonilla inside El Campesino Deli in Central Islip. Believing that Alvarado-Bonilla was a rival gang member, the Sailors clique devised a plan to kill him. Suarez drove MS-13 member Mario Aguilar-Lopez and an MS-13 associate to a street near the deli and parked. The MS-13 associate entered the deli and confirmed that Alvarado-Bonilla was there. Aguilar-Lopez then entered the deli, approached Alvarado-Bonilla from behind and shot him multiple times, killing him. One of the bullets traveled through Alvarado-Bonilla’s head and struck, in the chest, a female employee of the deli who was standing directly in front of him. Aguilar-Lopez ran out of the deli and back to the car where Suarez was waiting, and the two then fled the scene. The store employee was taken to a local hospital for treatment and survived.
Aguilar-Lopez pleaded guilty to the murder of Alvarado-Bonilla and wounding of the female deli employee, and is awaiting sentencing.
The government’s evidence at trial also established that on December 18, 2016, Suarez and several other MS-13 members and associates assaulted two men outside the Super Taco restaurant in Brentwood, seriously injuring one of the men. The victims were attacked because one of them had disrespected the MS-13.
Today’s trial conviction 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 criminal organization. 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. With numerous branches, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the largest and most violent street gang on Long Island. Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted of federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted of 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 Eastern District of New York, and has convicted dozens of MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI, SCPD, NCPD, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Suffolk County Probation, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Rockville Centre Police Department and the New York State Police.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Raymond A. Tierney and Michael T. Keilty are in charge of the prosecution.
JOSE SUAREZ (also known as “Chompira”)
Central Islip, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-403 (JFB)