An 11-count indictment was unsealed on October 4, 2023 in federal court in Central Islip charging Carlos Humberto Aquino-Hernandez, also known as “Caprichoso” and “Flaco” (“Aquino-Hernandez”), who is a member of the Coronados Locos Salvatruchas subgroup or “clique” of the MS-13, the violent transnational criminal organization La Mara Salvatruchas, and Gerson Hernandez, also known as “Steven Jefferson,” “Jeffrey,” “Serio,” “Serioso” and “Necio,” who is a member of the Hempstead Locos Salvatruchas clique of the MS-13, with multiple racketeering offenses in connection with two murders, a narcotics trafficking conspiracy, as well as with related charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, firearms offenses, and narcotics trafficking offenses.
Hernandez was arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lee G. Dunst at the federal courthouse in Central Islip and was ordered detained pending trial. On October 6, 2023, Aquino-Hernandez was ordered removed in custody from the District of Maryland and will be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York at a later date.
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 Patrick J. Ryder, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department (“NCPD”) announced the indictment and charges.
“The defendants allegedly committed two murders in furtherance of the MS-13 enterprise with all the gang’s hallmarks of senseless, brutal violence that endangers the entire community as evinced by unleashing gunfire outside a McDonald’s in broad daylight near a mother walking with her child,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The defendants fleeing to another state proved futile thanks to the outstanding efforts of law enforcement to hold them accountable now in a federal courtroom on Long Island.”
Mr. Peace expressed his appreciation to the members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, the NCPD, and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office; as well as to the members of the FBI’s Baltimore Division and Cross Border Task Force, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Montgomery County Division of the Maryland National Capital Park Police, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland for their tremendous assistance and partnership in this case.
“The actions of Aquino-Hernandez and Hernandez remind us that gangs are responsible for a significant percentage of violent crime in many jurisdictions, putting innocent people at risk as they avenge their rivals. The violence caused by MS-13 has terrorized our communities for far too long, and the FBI is committed to dismantling this violent gang and putting an end their atrocities once and for all,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith.
The July 19, 2022 Murder of Walter Ochoa
Walter Ochoa was targeted by MS-13 members who suspected him of being a member of a rival street gang. Ochoa’s murder was also committed in retaliation for the killing of an MS-13 member 11 days earlier which the MS-13 blamed on the 18th Street gang. On the evening of July 19, 2022, Ochoa was with another individual in Uniondale Park when they were approached by the defendants and a third MS-13 member, who were armed with a .45 caliber handgun and at least one knife. After they shot Ochoa to death and stabbed him in the neck and abdomen, the three MS-13 members fled the park.
The September 14, 2022 Murder of Hector Valencia Gomez
Surveillance footage from the McDonald’s restaurant revealed that on the afternoon of September 14, 2022, Hernandez and an MS-13 associate were being chased by Gomez towards a dumpster next to the McDonald’s drive-thru. Hernandez waved over Aquino-Hernandez who was armed with a 9-millimeter handgun. Aquino-Hernandez fired at Gomez, who was running in between cars lined up at the drive-thru. Gomez stumbled several steps before collapsing, after which point Aquino-Hernandez fired additional rounds at Gomez as he lay on the pavement. The MS-13 associate also struck Gomez in the arm with a large knife. The surveillance video also shows a mother and her small child, several feet away from the attack, running for cover during the shooting. Hernandez and Aquino-Hernandez were later arrested in Maryland where they had traveled to avoid apprehension for the murders.
Finally, the defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana on Long Island, the proceeds of which were used to help finance the MS-13’s criminal operations, including purchasing firearms, ammunition and other weapons, and sending money to MS-13 leadership in Central America.
The indictment 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 and Mexico, 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 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 alone, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 65 murders in the Eastern District of New York, and it 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 NCPD, the Suffolk County Police Department, 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.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to life in prison, or the possibility of the death penalty. The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Megan E. Farrell, Justina L. Geraci, and Paul G. Scotti from the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.
CARLOS HUMBERTO AQUINO-HERNANDEZ ( also known as “Caprichoso” and “Flaco”)
Uniondale, New York and Baltimore, Maryland
GERSON HERNANDEZ (also known as “Steven Jefferson,” “Jeffrey,” “Serio,” “Serioso” and “Necio”)
Hempstead, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 23-CR-369 (JMA)