Acting US Attorney Rohde Announces MS-13 Gang Members Indicted For Murder

Good afternoon everyone Thanks for coming out on this sweltering hot day

My name is Bridget Rohde and I am the acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York I’m joined here by my partners in law enforcement from the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force To my right, is Assistant Director in Charge Bill Sweeney, to my left, and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini We are also joined by other representatives of our task force here including from the Suffolk County Sheriffs office, Suffolk County probation, New York State Police and of course our prosecution team We are here to announce the 3rd superseding indictment in our most recent RICO prosecution against La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 here on Long Island

Among other things, this indictment expands the already existing Racketeering count by adding predicate acts for an October 2015 conspiracy to kill rival gang members, for the January 30, 2017 murder of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla and the April 11, 2017 murders of Justin Llivicura, Michael Lopez, Jorge Tigre and Jefferson Villalobos All five of these murders – the one on January 30 and the four on April 11 – occurred in Central Islip The superseding indictment has a similarly expanded racketeering conspiracy count as well as related murder and firearms charges And it has expanded narcotics charges to include not only marijuana but cocaine So let me highlight for you some of what is new in this superseding indictment (and you can find these allegations in the document itself and in our detention letter)

There are 7 new adult defendants in the superseding indictment 2 of the new defendants – Jeffrey Amador and Ronald Catalan — are charged with the October 2015 conspiracy to murder rival gang members 2 other new defendants – Mario Aguilar-Lopez and Jose Suarez — are charged with the January 30, 2017 Alvarado-Bonilla murder Three of the defendants named in the earlier indictment – Enrique Portillo and the Saenz brothers, Alexi and Jairo – are also charged with that murder 3 of the new defendants – Alexis Hernandez, Santos Leonel Ortiz-Flores, and Omar Villalta – are charged with the April 11, 2017 murders of Llivicura, Lopez, Tigre and Villalobos

So let me focus here for a few moments on the murders n particular As alleged, this past January, Alvarado-Bonilla was shot to death inside a deli in Central Islip not far from this courthouse On the day of the murder, Portillo, an alleged member of the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside clique, spotted Alvarado-Bonilla inside the deli and, believing him to be a member of a rival gang and thus someone who should be killed, Portillo contacted his superiors in the Sailors clique about the sighting The Saenz brothers directed Augilar-Lopez, Suarez and another MS-13 associate to go to the deli and murder Alvarado-Bonilla Aguilar-Lopez, armed with a gun provided to him by the Saenz brothers, went to the deli with Suarez and the other MS-13 associate, who confirmed that the victim was still inside

Aguilar-Lopez then fired multiple shots into the victim from behind, killing him An employee of the deli was wounded by a bullet that passed through Alvarado-Bonilla’s head Now, as to the April 11 homicide, as alleged, four young men were slain in a wooded area of a community park not too far from here MS-13 had suspected that several of the young men were members of a rival gang and wanted to attack and kill them So that evening, two female associates of MS-13 met up with the four victims and one other young man and lured them to the park

There, more than a dozen MS-13 gang members and associates were lying in wait for the victims in a wooded area, armed with machetes, knives and clubs When the female associates arrived at the park, they led the young men to the wooded area, texting the waiting MS-13 gang members and associates The victims were then surrounded and brutally attacked One of the young men was able to flee, but Llivicura, Lopez, Tigre and Villalobos were killed Their bodies were dragged to a more secluded spot, and left there, where they were discovered the following evening of April 12

So, I have two messages, one specific to this particular case and one broader First, this case seeks to achieve a measure of justice for more lost lives, those of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla in January, or that of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla in January, and of Justin Llivicura, Michael Lopez, Jorge Tigre and Jefferson Villalobos in April, as well as of other murder victims such as Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens whose murders were previously charged in this case Second, as plain from our work dating back to 2003, and continuing as clear from the various iterations of the indictment in this case, with each passing month, we learn more about MS-13, and its newest members and associates, we continually amass more proof of the violent crimes that members and associates of this criminal group commit; and we charge more of those members and associates with the most serious federal crimes at our disposal We will continue to expand our knowledge, and we will continue to act on it We will not allow our youth and young adults to be murdered, threatened, harassed and prevented from having the type of lives they should be living here

We won’t tolerate this violence in our schools, in our parks or in our neighborhoods My Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to work relentlessly to disband MS-13 just as we have done with other racketeering organizations in this District from La Cosa Nostra to the Russian mob to other street gangs I would be remiss if I did not emphasize that the expansion of this case – including the solving of these murders – was due to the methodical, thorough and unrelenting work of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force and our team of prosecutors John Durham, Ray Tierney and Paul Scotti Solving our common problems is not possible without teamwork And that's what's happened here

That's what's led to this superseding indictment that you're hearing about today At this time, I turn over the podium to FBI Assistant Director Bill Sweeney Thank You, Bridget Good afternoon everybody We have stated several times publicly that M-13 is our number one criminal priority in this area and it has been for some time The details laid out and the indictment should explain very plainly why it is that number one priority

One thing should stand out the people who are hearing about these cases and subjects we arrested recently Much of what they do and how they behave boils down for violence for the sake of violence The drugs they're accused of selling is almost an excuse to retaliate and attack rivals or others who cross them The idea that human life means nothing to these gang members should shock the conscience We cannot allow this type of thinking to take hold in our youth

We also know that some young members in this community fear MS-13 because they know the price of not joining could cost them their lives The Long Island Gang Task Force made up of men and women from this community will continue to aggressively target MS-13 We will be relentless The task force now has ten agencies who have assigned investigators and more than 30 people working on these cases Our members include the Nassau County Police Department, the Nassau County Sheriff's Department, the Suffolk County Police Department, The Suffolk Sheriff's Department, Rockville Centre Police Department, Suffolk County Probation, the ATF, the Hempstead Police Department, the New York State Police, and now the HSI

We also work hand-in-hand with the Eastern District of New York to investigate arrest and charge gang members who are instilling fear in this community We share that intelligence with the member agencies assembled here which creates a force multiplier in addressing the threat MS-13 poses to our community and we are in constant communication with task forces based in El Salvador and Central America to illustrate that point While the task force was conducting its operations here, our FBI colleagues and law enforcement partners in El Salvador arrested 20 active members of MS-13 Putting all these agencies together is the best way to achieve our ultimate goal, which is taking out the leadership of MS-13 The Long Island Gang Task Force will aggressively target violent gang members no matter their age, no matter where they run

We have a global reach But law enforcement is only part of the answer I think it is safe to say that we also need additional focus on the youngest members of our community to give them support, provide them with credible outlets, help them build productive social networks, before they become the focus of gang recruitment efforts I would ask that the public put as much energy behind supporting your community groups, your churches, your after-school programs, your faith-based organizations and your activists as you do behind us in law enforcement The quiet professionals involved in that type of work play a critical and long-term role in addressing the issues we're facing

It is work that will serve a key role in redirecting our at-risk youth as well as helping us avoid press conferences like this in the future Thank you to the men and women from all the agencies serving on the task force, your work has been exceptional Thank you to the community for your support it has been critical to our success Thank you And now Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini

I want to thank the Acting US Attorney for her leadership on this issue and for calling this very important press conference I'll never forget when I was notified of the quadruple homicide Obviously it was one of the worst crimes committed in Suffolk County's history and we are proud to stand here just a bit more than three months later announcing the fact that we've solved this case The acts of these defendants are unspeakable

They brutally cut short the lives of Jorge Tigre, Justin Llivicura, Jefferson Villalobos, Michael Lopez Banegas, and Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla Nothing will bring these boys back As a father of three, I cannot imagine the heartache that their loved ones are experiencing But we can take solace in the fact that their murderers are now behind bars and incapable of hurting our society We can take solace in the fact that justice will be done

We can take solace in the fact that their families and loved ones may now enjoy some level of closure Today's announcement is the culmination of outstanding police work, excellent collaboration between the Suffolk County Police Department and the FBI and top-notch outstanding prosecutorial work The fact that these arrests were done in approximately three months is nothing short of outstanding And I want to thank everyone here today for their partnership I want to particularly thank the FBI in the US Attorney's Office for their commitment to justice and their doggedness with respect to this case

And of course I want to thank the hundreds of police officers and detectives who poured their heart into this case to bring it home in record speed So what does today mean for our community? In the immediate it means that very dangerous people are no longer on our streets and that justice will be done on behalf of the victims and their loved ones and our community It's also another huge blow against MS-13 It shows that we will not tolerate violence in our communities, it shows that we will stop at nothing to achieve justice and it means that we will prevail We'll prevail against acts of savagery

We'll continue to work together to make our streets safe so that everyone can enjoy peace in their lives Moving forward we'll continue our enhanced gang eradication strategy we've talked about it before it entails collecting an enormous amount of intelligence, having our police officers target those known gang members, working with the FBI safe streets task force, the Long Island gang task, force to bring RICO cases against dangerous gang members, working with the Department of Homeland Security to target active gang members for deportation, enhancing patrols in affected areas, which I want to I want to thank the the Governor and the State Police for their for their assistance in that respect, and of course investment in our gang prevention and intervention strategies Since the Suffolk County Police Department initiated this strategy we've made over 240 MS-13 arrested over 170 individual gang members We've brought to justice the murderers of Nisa Mickens, Kayla Cuevas, José Peña-Hernandez, Jorge Tigre, Justin Llivicura, Jefferson Villalobos, Michael Lopez Banegas and Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla We've decreased crime to historic lows in the police district, including in Brentwood and Central Islip

And we're in the process of rolling out innovative gang prevention and intervention strategies that will make a real difference in our communities My message to Suffolk County residents is this we are in this for the long haul and we will prevail thank you

Source: Youtube

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