A reputed MS-13 gang member was sentenced to life in prison Monday for the revenge-fueled execution-style double murder of a Long Island mother and her toddler in the woods of Central Islip.
Juan “Cruzito” Garcia, who fled to El Salvador following the February 2010 slayings, had pleaded guilty to murdering 19-year-old Vanessa Argueta in October 2014. His life sentence was handed down by US District Judge Joseph F. Bianco in Central Islip.
“The MS-13 is infamous for committing senseless and brutal acts of violence, but, even for the MS-13, the murders of Vanessa Argueta and Diego Torres were particularly depraved and callous,” said Robert L. Capers, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Garcia, 22, was one of four men involved in the murders of Argueta and her 2-year-old son, Diego Torres. All four men have been convicted for their roles in the murders, and all but one have been sentenced to life in prison. Rene Mendez Mejia, who pleaded guilty to the Argueta and Torres murders, is awaiting sentencing.
Garcia was on the lam for four years before surrendering to law enforcement authorities in Nicaragua in March 2014, after spending one day on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. The feds had offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to Garcia’s arrest.
The murders were in retaliation for Argueta’s apparently requesting a rival gang jump Garcia after their romantic relationship had soured, authorities said.
After getting approval to exact revenge, Garcia and his accomplices picked Argueta and her son up from her home under the guise of taking her out to dinner, authorities said.
Instead, they took the mother and son to a secluded area in the woods of Central Islip. Then they fatally shot Argueta in the head and chest and Torres twice in the head, authorities said. Prosecutors said Garcia fired one of the bullets that killed Argueta.