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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

MS-13 Gang Member Sentenced to More than 25 Years in Prison for Attempted Murder that Left a 16-Year-Old Paralyzed

Defendant Shot Suspected Rival to Earn Full Membership in MS-13

Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Kevin Paniagua, a member of the Centrales Locos Salvatruchas (CLS) clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, a transnational criminal organization, was sentenced by United States District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf to 308 months in prison for the October 23, 2016 attempted murder of a 16-year-old victim suspected of being a member of the rival 18th Street gang.  Paniagua pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2018.

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), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the sentence.

“With today’s sentence, Paniagua has been held responsible for wanton violence he committed on behalf of of the MS-13 gang that left a teenager paralyzed,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners will continue working tirelessly to eradicate the MS-13 and all gangs that threaten the safety of our communities.”

“These gangs require violence of new recruits, and Mr. Paniagua did all he could to live up to their dangerous and warped initiation process.  Our communities get caught in the middle of these deadly attacks and fear the harm that could come from stray bullets intended for a rival gang,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “The FBI New York Metro Safe Streets Task Force won't rest until we stop these criminal organizations from filling their ranks with members willing to kill for acceptance.” 

“Gang violence will not be tolerated, and the message of this sentencing is clear – the NYPD and our law enforcement partners will hold responsible any violent gang members such as MS-13 for their criminal acts.  I thank our colleagues at the Eastern District and the FBI for their unceasing professionalism and dedicated work in removing from our streets anyone who would commit crime and disorder,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill.

In the early morning hours of October 23, 2016, Paniagua and his co-conspirators confronted the victim in Jamaica, Queens.  There, they punched and kicked him, and Paniagua pulled out a handgun and shot the victim in the face.  Paniagua then attempted to shoot the victim a second time as he lay on the sidewalk, but the gun jammed.  The victim is a paraplegic as a result of the attack. 

Today’s sentencing 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 MS-13, a violent international criminal organization.  MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador and Honduras, and 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 gang 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 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 & Gang Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Nadia Moore is in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

KEVIN PANIAGUA
Age:  20
Queens, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-307 (RRM)

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Contact: 
John Marzulli Tyler Daniels United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated May 7, 2019