MS-13 Gang Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racketeering Charges Including the Murder of 16-Year-Old Victim in Alley Pond Park in Queens
Earlier today, Jose Gonzalez, Kevin Paniagua and Francisco Ramos were arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, along with a related firearms charge by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD). The defendants’ initial appearance is scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
The charges were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, 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), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).
According to court filings, Gonzalez, also known as “Flaco,” and Paniagua, also known as “Stomper,” are members of the La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and Ramos is an MS-13 associate. On October 23, 2016, Ramos drove Gonzalez, Paniagua and another gang member to Jamaica, Queens, in the vicinity of 179th St. and 90th Ave., allegedly to assault an individual targeted because they believed he was a member of one of MS-13’s chief rivals, the 18th Street gang. Gonzalez, Paniagua and another MS-13 member beat the victim viciously and then Paniagua pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the head. Paniagua attempted to shoot the victim a second time, but the gun apparently malfunctioned. The victim is now a paraplegic as a result of the shooting.
“As alleged in the complaint, the defendants were members and an associate of MS-13, an international gang known for its culture of murder,” said Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “They sought to spread fear throughout the community by attempting to kill an individual they suspected to be a rival gang member. We will work with our law enforcement partners to make our communities safer by holding accountable those who are responsible for such acts of violence.” Ms. Rohde thanked the Queens District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in the investigation.
“MS-13 feeds on violence and chaos, and forces people to live in fear. As we arrest and charge more gang members, they’re seeing they can’t operate in the shadows and escape getting caught,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “The FBI New York Office is committed to disrupting violent gangs like MS-13 that operate in the New York metropolitan area. We and our law enforcement partners will not stop investigating and rounding up members who hope to rebuild their hierarchy after we make arrests.”
“Violence, of any kind, has no place in New York City,” said Police Commissioner O’Neill. “The defendants find themselves under arrest and facing serious charges for an attempted murder, as alleged in the complaint.”
The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Nadia E. Moore and Rena Paul are in charge of the prosecution.
Jose Gonzalez (“Flaco”)
Queens, New York
Kevin Paniagua (“Stomper”)
Queens, New York
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-MJ-423