Skip to main content
Press Release

Trinitarios Gang Member Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Murder Of 16-Year-Old Boy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JUAN MARTINEZ, a/k/a “KJ,” was sentenced today by United States District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer to a term of 30 years in prison for his participation in a racketeering conspiracy and in the murder of 16-year-old Ka’Shawn Phillips on September 5, 2005.  MARTINEZ was a member of the Yonkers faction of the violent Trinitarios gang (the “Trinitarios Gang”).


Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “On a Labor Day weekend 12 years ago, Juan Martinez recruited a hit squad of his fellow Trinitarios Gang members to murder 16-year-old Ka’Shawn Phillips, who had earlier been involved in a fistfight with Martinez.  The Trinitarios Gang members recruited by Martinez brutally shot, beat, and stabbed Phillips to death in the middle of the street.  While nothing can bring Phillips back, we hope his family finds a measure of solace in the justice achieved by today’s sentence.  Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively prosecute all those who engage in these senseless acts of violence in our communities.”


In imposing sentence, Judge Engelmayer noted the “savagery of the attack,” and observed that Martinez was “personally responsible for the slaughter” of Phillips and that Martinez’s crime was “as wrongful and evil as a crime can be.”


According to the Indictment, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the sentencing proceedings:


The Trinitarios Gang was a violent gang that was formed in the New York state prison system in the early 1990s and subsequently spread to the streets.  JUAN MARTINEZ, a/k/a “KJ,” was a member of the Yonkers faction of the Trinitarios Gang.  On September 5, 2005, MARTINEZ – who was 30 years old at the time – was involved in a fistfight with Ka’Shawn Phillips at a pickup basketball game in Yonkers.  MARTINEZ retaliated first by attacking Phillips with a machete, and then by enlisting members of the Bronx faction of the Trinitarios Gang to attack Phillips.  Armed with guns, knives, and swords, a mob of Trinitarios Gang members shot, beat, and stabbed Phillips to death.  He was 16 years old.

*                *                  *


In addition to the prison term, MARTINEZ, 42, of Yonkers, New York, was sentenced to five years of supervised release. 


Since 2009, as part of “Operation Patria” and “Operation Green Haze,” this Office has charged at least a combined 149 members and associates of the Trinitarios Gang.


Mr. Kim praised the work of the New York City Police Department’s Bronx Gang Squad, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Joint Firearms Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.


The case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel Maimin and Micah W.J. Smith are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated September 20, 2017

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 17-305