Former DOJ Paralegal Sentenced to 33 Months in Prison for Witness Retaliation and Obstruction of Justice-Related Crimes
Henry Edenilson Salmeron, a member of the violent transnational criminal organization La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the “MS-13,” and fugitive from justice, was extradited from Guatemala to the United States yesterday to face charges for his alleged participation in the April 11, 2017 murders of Justin Llivicura, Michael Lopez, Jorge Tigre and Jefferson Villalobos. Salmeron, who was originally charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Central Islip, New York, on July 12, 2017, was arrested in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on February 3, 2021, by the Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Unit on a provisional arrest warrant, and has been detained since then, pending his extradition to the United States. Salmeron was arraigned this afternoon before United States Circuit Judge Joseph F. Bianco and was ordered detained pending trial.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting 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), Vincent F. DeMarco, United States Marshal for the Eastern District of New York, and Stuart J. Cameron, Acting Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), announced the arrest and extradition.
“Although this defendant sought to evade answering for these horrific crimes by fleeing more than 3,000 miles from the Central Islip park where he and his fellow MS-13 gang members callously slaughtered four young men, the relentless determination of our law enforcement partners led to his capture and extradition, and he will now face justice in a courthouse that overlooks that very same park,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis. “More than four years have passed since the victims were murdered, but we hope that today’s extradition brings some measure of comfort to the victims’ family and friends.” Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis expressed her grateful appreciation to the investigators and analysts of the FBI’s Guatemala TAG Unit and Safe Streets Gang Unit, the members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) for their outstanding collaboration in locating and apprehending this fugitive. Ms. Kasulis also expressed thanks to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their assistance in this case.
“Gang violence erodes the very fabric of our communities, in many cases leaving parents to fear for the lives of their children, and the average citizen to doubt their safety in the comfort of their own neighborhood,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Today’s extradition of Salmeron will now allow us to hold him accountable for the murders he’s accused of committing, and hopefully restore some faith in the community that we, too, share the same concerns and won’t stop pursuing these criminals until they all face justice for their crimes.”
“Criminals often think they can flee the United States to avoid prosecution but United States Marshals Service is determined to work with our federal and international law enforcement partners and give victims of violent crime the justice they deserve,” stated United States Marshal DeMarco.
“The extradition of violent criminals like Henry Edenilson Salmeron sends a clear and powerful message to members of MS-13 that gang activity will not be tolerated in Suffolk County,” stated SCPD Acting Commissioner Cameron. “I commend our law enforcement partners, both here and in Guatemala, for their dedication to apprehending Salmeron and bringing him back to Suffolk County to answer for these crimes and bring justice to the victims’ families.”
On the evening of April 11, 2017, two female associates of the MS-13 lured five young men, including Llivicura, Lopez, Tigre and Villalobos, to a community park in Central Islip, so that Salmeron and other MS-13 members and associates could attack and kill them. The victims were believed to be rival gang members who were disrespectful toward the MS-13. Salmeron and numerous other MS-13 members and associates met in the park where they distributed weapons and discussed the plan to kill the victims. Once the female MS-13 associates led the men to a wooded area, Salmeron and the other MS-13 members and associates surrounded, attacked and killed Llivicura, Lopez, Tigre and Villalobos, using machetes, knives, wooden clubs and an axe. The fifth intended victim escaped. The victims’ bodies were discovered the following evening.
After committing the murders, Salmeron fled to Guatemala to evade arrest and prosecution in this case. Salmeron remained a fugitive for nearly four years until he was located by the USMS and FBI, and arrested by the TAG in Guatemala City on February 3, 2021. The United States requested Salmeron’s extradition, and his formal surrender was authorized on May 10, 2021, so that he could be transported to the Eastern District of New York to face the charges pending against him.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Salmeron faces up to life in prison.
Salmeron is the ninth MS-13 member or associate to be charged publicly with the April 11, 2017 murders. Six of those defendants are pending trial and are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Josue Portillo and Freiry Martinez previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 55 and 50 years in prison, respectively.
Today’s extradition is the latest achievement 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 transnational criminal organization. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala 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 most violent street criminal organization on Long Island. 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 60 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, the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), the SCPD, the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, the Suffolk County Probation Office, the New York State Police, the Hempstead Police Department, the Rockville Centre Police Department, and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys John J. Durham, Paul G. Scotti, Justina L. Geraci and Megan E. Farrell are in charge of the prosecution.
HENRY EDENILSON SALMERON
Guatemala City, Guatemala; formerly of Brentwood, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-403 (JFB)
United States Attorney’s Office