The campaign against MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) gang members continued last week as Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced the indictment of 17 alleged members and associates of the gang by a grand jury on various charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking in Nassau County and nationally. According to Singas, all 17 of the defendants face up to 25 years to life in prison on if convicted on their top charges.
On Long Island, MS-13 leaders in El-Salvador allegedly directed the leaders of the “Hollywood” and “Sailors” cliques based on Long Island in Hempstead, Freeport, Roosevelt, Uniondale, Glen Cove, Greenport, Central Islip and elsewhere, said officials with the Nassau County District Attorney’s office (NCDA).
“This massive multi-agency investigation laid bare the global size, complexity, and brutality of MS-13, and these indictments strike a heavy blow to the gang’s operations on Long Island,” Singas said. “These alleged gang members have terrorized vulnerable immigrant communities, trafficked deadly heroin into our neighborhoods, and this coalition of more than 22 agencies nationwide will continue to be unrelenting in our efforts to dismantle MS-13.”
Singas said that beginning in May 2017, both her office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began an investigation into the alleged criminal activity of several MS-13 members. Investigators identified MS-13 operations, or “cliques,” in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Texas.
Cliques are sub-groups of MS-13. All cliques, the NCDA’s office said, are MS-13 gang members, and each clique operates individually under it’s on rules, yet is still under the greater rules of the entire organization.
Hollywood and Sailors clique leaders, they added, allegedly reported to gang leaders in El Salvador, and sent them the proceeds of their criminal activities. Based on the evidence acquired during the investigation, the gang also has affiliates operating around the world in places such as Mexico, Colombia, South Korea, France, Australia, Peru, Egypt, Ecuador and Cuba.
The indictment alleges that defendants David Sosa Guevara aka Risky and Victor Lopez, brutally murdered 15-year-old Angel Soler on July 21, 2017, in Nassau County. Soler’s body was mutilated, bearing injuries consistent with the use of a machete, and he suffered blunt force trauma to the head. He was left buried until his remains were discovered on Oct. 1, 2017, in a remote wooden area in Roosevelt, south of the Southern State Parkway, and cement was poured over his body.
As alleged in the indictment, on three separate occasions, several of the defendants conspired to commit murder. The murders were to take place in Nassau County, Elizabeth, NJ, and Prince George’s County, Maryland, but the attempts were thwarted by law enforcement officials, thereby saving lives. According to the indictment, on July 19, 2017, defendants Kevin Cuevas Del Cid aka “Creeper” and Augustine Benitez aka “Olvidado” conspired to lure a victim into the woods in the Roosevelt/Freeport, NY, area with the promise of marijuana—and intended to kill him.
The following day, working with NCPD and Homeland Security, Cuevas Del Cid was apprehended and detained in the Glen Cove area at his landscaping job.
On Sept. 29, 2017, a gang member allegedly instructed “Olvidado” to recruit members of their clique on Long Island to kill another individual in Maryland, who was believed was cooperating with law enforcement. Working with law enforcement in Maryland the murder was thwarted.
Singas said that the case originally began as a narcotic trafficking investigation, but as the MS-13’s “proclivity for violence” was realized, the investigation adapted. The DA’s office added that it was clear that the heroin and cocaine trafficking were profitable to the gang and necessary for their existence.
In addition to those in New York, Singas thanked law enforcement agencies in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, Texas and New Jersey.
The MS-13 gang sprang into the news last year after a string of grisly murders in Nassau and Suffolk County. Since then, both President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jefferson Sessions have traveled to Long Island to address the issue. In his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also vowed to fight the MS-13 presence in New York.
—Information provided by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office