Central Islip Gang Member Gets Life for Murdering Tot

An MS-13 street gang member was sentenced Thursday to multiple life terms in federal prison plus 35 years for his role in killing a mother and her 2-year-old son in Central Islip.

Adalberto Ariel “Gringo” Guzman had been convicted last year at Central Islip federal court of murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit murders in aid of racketeering and firearms offenses. Authorities have said he was caught on wiretap joking about the murders and even stole the toddler’s Dora the Explorer ball.

“Even for the MS-13, the execution-style murders of a young mother and an innocent child, carried out by Guzman and his fellow gang members, were particularly senseless and cold-blooded crimes,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Prosecutors said the 22-year-old Central Islip man and three others worked together to fatally shoot 19-year-old Vanessa Argueta of Baldwin and her two-year-old son Diego Torres in Central Islip on Feb. 4, 2010.

Guzman shot the toddler twice in the head at point-blank range after he and his co-conspirators lured the boy and his mother to an industrial park under the guise of taking Argueta out to dinner, authorities said.

The motive, according to investigators, stemmed from fellow reputed MS-13 member Juan “Cruzito” Garcia, 21, who authorities said Argueta had asked friends in rival gangs to jump after the two had dated and broke up.

Garcia, who nearly set a record for being the shortest time spent on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, had surrendered to authorities Nicaragua earlier this year and is awaiting trial on Long Island for his role in the slayings.

Of the other two gang members involved, Heriberto “Boxer” Martinez was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years and Rene Mendez “Zorro” Mejia pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Guzman was arrested at Miami International Airport three months after the murders on a return flight from El Salvador, where Garcia and Mejia also fled. His attorney reportedly said Guzman plans to appeal his conviction.