MS-13 Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder in Queens
Defendant and Co-Conspirators Shot and Paralyzed a 16-year-old Suspected Rival Gang Member
Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Kevin Paniagua (“Stomper”), a member of the Centrales Locos Salvatruchas clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13, a transnational criminal organization, pleaded guilty to attempted murder and firearms charges in connection with his participation in the October 23, 2016 attempted murder of a then-16-year-old in Jamaica, Queens. The proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty plea.
“Paniagua, a member of the MS-13 gang, admitted that he participated in the execution-style attempted murder of a sixteen-year-old youth, whom he left paralyzed,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “MS-13 spreads fear throughout the community by killing suspected rival gang members and others who cross their path. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to eradicate violent gangs and prevent our streets from turning into battlegrounds.” Mr. Donoghue thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department for their partnership and outstanding work on the case.
According to court filings and the defendant’s statements during his guilty plea, Paniagua and other MS-13 members and associates orchestrated and attempted to murder a then sixteen-year-old boy because they suspected he was a member of the rival 18th Street gang. In the early morning hours of October 23, 2016, Paniagua and his coconspirators sought out the victim and laid in wait to intercept him as he walked through the streets of Queens. When the victim walked past Paniagua and his coconspirators, they beat him. Paniagua then pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the face. He then attempted to shoot the victim a second time, as he lay motionless on the ground. The gun jammed, and Paniagua was not able to execute the victim, who was left paralyzed from his injuries.
Paniagua faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life in prison when sentenced by United States District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf. Upon completion of his sentence, the defendant faces deportation from the United States.
Today’s 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. 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 including the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI and NYPD.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs section. Assistant United States Attorneys Nadia E. Moore and Keith D. Edelman are in charge of the prosecution.
KEVIN PANIAGUA (also known as “Stomper”)
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-307 (RRM)