Leader of White Supremacist Group Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Make Death Threats Against Journalist
Today, in federal court in Central Islip, Enrique Portillo, also known as “Oso” and “Turkey,” a member of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13, pleaded guilty to racketeering and firearms charges in connection with his participation in four murders, namely, the September 13, 2016 murders of teenagers Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, in Brentwood; the October 13, 2016 murder of Dewann Stacks, in Brentwood; and the January 30, 2017 murder of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla in Central Islip; as well as his participation in four attempted murders, including the discharge of a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun in connection with one of the attempted murders; and arson. The guilty plea proceeding was held before United States District Judge Gary R. Brown. When sentenced, Portillo faces up to life in prison on the racketeering charge and a 10-year, mandatory minimum sentence on the firearms charge.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Rodney K. Harrison, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), announced the guilty plea.
“Today, the defendant pleaded guilty to participating in four extremely brutal murders, including two teenage girls slaughtered while walking home, that have left permanent scars in the Brentwood community which for too long has suffered acts of violence and destruction carried out by the MS-13 with machetes, knives, guns and fire,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “I am confident that justice for the victims will be delivered when Portillo is sentenced for his savage crimes. This Office will not rest until all MS-13 gang members are held to account for their utter lack of respect for human life and the rule of law.”
“As part of his desire to gain status within MS-13, Portillo repeatedly acted with complete disregard for human life, killing four individuals along with multiple other attempts. Today’s guilty plea stands as a warning to anyone willing to attempt to gain standing through senseless acts of violence — you will face the consequences. The FBI Long Island Gang Task Force will not allow vicious criminals to go unchecked and cause our community to live in fear of violence,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith.
“These senseless and barbaric killings, including those of teenagers Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, shook our communities and reverberated around the nation,” stated SCPD Commissioner Harrison. “It is my hope that this guilty plea will provide the victims’ families some peace while also demonstrating our commitment to dismantling these criminal enterprises. I commend the work of the Long Island Gang Task Force on this case and Eastern District of New York for their continued success in prosecuting these vicious gang members.”
According to court filings and statements made during today’s guilty plea proceeding, Portillo was a member of the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside (Sailors) clique of the MS-13. He committed the following crimes in order to maintain and increase his membership and status in the gang:
July 18, 2016 Attempted Murders of John Doe #1 and John Doe #2
On the evening of July 18, 2016, Portillo and other members of the MS-13, who were driving around Brentwood, armed, in search of rival gang members to attack and kill, observed a group of men on Apple Street. Believing these men to be members of a rival gang, Portillo and two other MS-13 members exited the car and attacked the group. Portillo fired a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun at one of the men (identified as John Doe #1), and then used a machete to hack at another (identified as John Doe #2). Another MS-13 member fired at the group of men using a .38 caliber handgun. Although John Doe #1 was struck with a bullet, he survived. John Doe #2, who was attacked with a machete, also survived, but was severely disfigured as a result of this attack.
September 12, 2016 Arson in Brentwood
During the summer of 2016, Sailors clique members of MS-13 were regularly having altercations with rival gang members based in a neighborhood on Freeman Avenue in Brentwood. On September 12, 2016, the MS-13 members set fire to a car parked in the driveway of one of the houses in that neighborhood. Portillo and other MS-13 members drove to that house, where Portillo and two others poured gasoline on a car parked in the driveway and then set it on fire. The car exploded and ignited another parked car.
September 13, 2016 Murders of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens
On September 13, 2016, Portillo and several other MS-13 members brutally murdered 15-year-old Nisa Mickens and 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas, both students at Brentwood High School.
In the months leading up to the murders, Cuevas was involved in a series of disputes with members and associates of the MS-13. Approximately one week before the murders, these disputes escalated when Cuevas and several friends were involved in an altercation with MS-13 members at Brentwood High School. After that incident, the MS-13 members vowed to seek revenge against Cuevas. On the evening of September 13, 2016, Portillo and other members of the Sailors clique of the MS-13, who were driving around Brentwood in search of rival gang members to attack and kill, spotted Cuevas and Mickens walking on Stahley Street in a residential neighborhood. Recognizing Cuevas, they quickly sought and obtained the requisite permission to murder the teen girls. Portillo and others then jumped out of the car, chased and attacked both Cuevas and Mickens, wielding baseball bats and a machete, striking each of the girls numerous times in their heads and bodies, causing their deaths. Mickens, whose body was discovered later that evening on Stahley Street, not far from Cuevas’s home, sustained significant sharp force trauma to her face and blunt force trauma to her head. Cuevas, whose body was discovered the following day behind a house adjacent to where Mickens’s body was found, sustained significant blunt force trauma to her head and body and multiple lacerations.
October 13, 2016 Murder of Dewann Stacks
On the evening of October 13, 2016, Portillo and other members of the MS-13 were once again driving around Central Islip and Brentwood in search of rival gang members to attack and kill. That night, they spotted 34-year-old Dewann Stacks and, believing him to be a rival gang member, decided to kill him. Portillo, armed with a baseball bat, and two other MS-13 members, both armed with machetes, attacked Stacks, beating and hacking him to death on American Boulevard, a residential street in Brentwood. Stacks sustained severe sharp and blunt force trauma to his face and head, leaving him nearly unrecognizable.
January 30, 2017 Murder of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla
On the morning of January 30, 2017, members of the Sailors clique of MS-13 spotted 29-year-old Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla inside El Campesino Deli in Central Islip. Alvarado-Bonilla was wearing a football jersey bearing the number “18,” which led the MS-13 to conclude that he was a member of a rival gang, and they plotted to kill him. Portillo identified Alvarado-Bonilla to other MS-13 members as their target, and kept watch over him to ensure that he remained at the deli. Other MS-13 members then arrived at the deli to commit the murder. At approximately 10:30 a.m., a masked MS-13 member entered the deli, approached Alvarado-Bonilla from behind, and shot him multiple times, killing him. One of the bullets pierced through Alvarado-Bonilla’s head and struck the chest of a female employee of the deli, who was standing directly in front of him. The deli employee survived the gunshot wound.
September 26, 2017 Attempted Murder of John Doe #3 in Federal Prison in Brooklyn
In the summer of 2017, while Portillo was in federal custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, MS-13 members were regularly having altercations with members of the Young Gunnaz, or YGz, a rival gang. On September 26, 2017, Portillo encountered an individual (identified as John Doe #3), a YGz member, on his unit and tried to kill him by using a shank to stab him in the neck, and by beating him with metal locks tied to a braided bed sheet. John Doe #3 survived the attack.
May 30, 2019 Attempted Murder of John Doe #4 in Federal Prison in Brooklyn
On May 30, 2019, while Portillo was in federal custody at the MDC in Brooklyn, he encountered an individual (identified as John Doe #4), a member of the Bloods street gang – a rival of the MS-13 – in his unit’s common area. Portillo tried to kill him by stabbing him with a shank. John Doe #4 survived the attack.
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, transnational criminal organization. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States. With numerous branches, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the most violent criminal organization operating 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 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 65 murders in the Eastern District of New York, resulting in the convictions of 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, which is comprised of agents and officers of the FBI, SCPD, Nassau County Police Department, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Suffolk County Probation Office, Suffolk County Sheriff’s 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 Paul G. Scotti, Justina L. Geraci, and Megan E. Farrell are in charge of the prosecution.
ENRIQUE PORTILLO (also known as “Oso” and “Turkey”)
Brentwood, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-403 (S-8) (GRB)
United States Attorney’s Office