Seventeen reputed MS-13 street gang members and associates were arrested recently for their alleged roles in several murders, including a quadruple slaying in Central Islip four months ago, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Charges that the suspects are facing in a 59-count indictment unsealed last week at Central Islip federal court include murder, attempted murder, assault, arson as well as drug and weapons charges.
“As I said when I visited Long Island after these murders took place in April, MS-13’s motto may be ‘kill, rape and control,’ but the Department of Justice’s motto is justice for victims and consequences for criminals,” U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions said in response of the arrests.
Prosecutors said the three arrested for the massacre include 20-year-old Alexis Hernandez, 19-year-old Santos Leonel Ortiz-Flores and 22-year-old Omar “Anticristo” Antonio Villata, all of Central Islip. Authorities said Villata also has ties to Charlottesville, Va.
The victims in that case were 16-year-old Justin Llivicura of East Patchogue, 20-year-old Michael Lopez Banegas and Jorge Tigre of Bellport, Jefferson Villalobos of Pompano Beach, Fla., both 18, Suffolk County police have said.
At the direction of MS-13 members who believed the victims were members of a rival gang, two female MS-13 associates lured the four victims to the soccer fields across from the Central Islip Recreation Center on Clayton Street on April 11. More than a dozen MS-13 members and associates—including Hernandez, Ortiz-Flores and Villalta—plotted the attack, distributed machetes, knives and wooden clubs, then surrounded the victims once the females texted the gang that they had arrived, according to investigators. The killers then dragged the victims’ bodies a short distance to a more secluded spot where they were found the next day, prosecutors said.
A fifth victim fled the scene. Authorities previously disclosed that a video of the victims’ bodies was sent to their girlfriends. The case sparked a Long Island visit by Sessions, who vowed to dismantle the gang, as well as congressional hearings and beefed up police presence in the community.
The arrests were made by members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force.
“This is another huge blow against MS-13,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini. “It shows that we will not tolerate violence in our communities.”
Five suspects were also charged with the Jan. 30 killing of 29-year-old Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla, a suspected rival gang member, and assault of an innocent bystander at El Campesino Deli in Central Islip. The suspects include Brentwood residents 18-year-old Mario “Cuchumbo” Aguilar-Lopez, 22-year-old Alexi “Blasty” Saenz and 20-year-old Jairo “Funny” Saenz as well as Central Islip residents 20-year-old Enrique “Turkey” Portillo and Jose “Chompira” Suarez, 23.
Portillo, Alexi Saenz and Jairo Saenz were previously charged with the Sept. 13, 2016, murders of Nisa Mickens and Kyla Cuevas in Brentwood.
Two more Brentwood residents, 21-year-old Jeffrey “Cruel” Amador and 26-year-old Ronald “Stranger” Catalan, who authorities identified as the leader of the Brentwood Locos Salvatruchas clique of MS-13, were charged with the Oct. 21, 2015 attempted murder of two suspected members of the rival Latin Kings gang in North Bay Shore, according to investigators. Two victims were shot but survived, prosecutors said.
The other seven reputed MS-13 members are facing various charges of selling cocaine and marijuana to fund the gang’s operations, prosecutors said. They include German “Bad Boy” Cruz and Elmer “Little Smiley” Alexander Lopez, both 19, 30-year-old Edwin “Strong”Amaya-Sanchez, 23-year-old Jhonny “Reaper” Contreras, 25-year-old Reynaldo “Mente” Lopez-Alvarado, 20-year-old Selvin “Flash” Chavez, all of Brentwood, and William “Satanico” Castellanos, 20, of Central Islip.
“MS-13 is our number one priority on Long Island because much of what they do and how they behave boils down to violence for violence sake,” said Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “The idea that human life means nothing to these gang members should shock the conscience, and we cannot allow this type of thinking to take hold in our youth. We need help in addressing the violence, by the community supporting churches, community programs and activists who can provide a positive alternative to the deadly future MS-13 offers.”