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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 4, 2016

MS-13 Gang Members Pled Guilty To Murder Of 19-Year-Old Man On Long Island

Defendants Lured Victim from Queens to Long Island and Then Shot Him, Believing Victim Was Cooperating With Law Enforcement

Earlier today, defendants Milton Contreras and Jose Osmin Rubio pled guilty to the murder of a 19-year-old victim on Long Island.  The guilty pleas were entered before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.  In the past month, two additional defendants pled guilty and admitted their participation in the murder – defendant Byron Lopez pled guilty before United States District Court Judge Margo Brodie on July 5, 2016, and defendant Oscar Welman Espinoza-Merino pled guilty before Judge Reyes on July 28, 2016.  When sentenced, the defendants face up to life imprisonment, as well as restitution and a fine.

The guilty pleas were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations, (HSI); Delano A. Reid, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New York Field Division (ATF); and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

In announcing thee guilty pleas, U.S. Attorney Capers expressed his grateful appreciation to the Suffolk County Police Department for its assistance with the investigation.

As detailed in the superseding indictment, the four defendants are members of the Jamaica, Queens and/or Brentwood, Long Island chapters of the violent street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as “MS-13.”  On February 25, 2014, Lopez, Espinoza-Merino, Contreras and Rubio directed the victim, fellow gang member Sidney Valverde, to travel to Long Island under the false pretense that they needed him to assist in gang business there.  In fact, the co-conspirators planned to kill Valverde because they believed that he was providing information about the gang’s activities to law enforcement.  After Valverde arrived in Long Island, the co-conspirators shot him in the back of the head and left his body on Miller Place Beach in Suffolk County where it was discovered by a beachcomber approximately two weeks later.

This case 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.  With numerous branches, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the largest and most violent street gang on Long Island.  Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in this district.  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 30 murders in the Eastern District of New York, and has convicted dozens of MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Alixandra Smith is in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

BYRON LOPEZ
Age:  25
Queens, New York

OSCAR WELMAN ESPINOZA-MERINO (“Speedy” and “Petey”)
Age:  23
Brentwood, New York

MILTON CONTRERAS (“Diabolico”)
Age:  20
Brentwood, New York

JOSE OSMIN RUBIO (“Slow”)
Age:  25
Brentwood, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 14-463 (MKB) (RER)

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated September 7, 2016