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Eight MS-13 members indicted for six L.I. murders

Officials identified a Freeporter as one of the leaders

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Eight members of the MS-13 gang were charged on July 15 in connection to six murders that happened on Long Island from 2016 to 2017.

The U.S. District Court, in Islip, charged Carlos Alfaro, 23, of Roosevelt; Jose Moises Blanco, 30, of Salisbury, North Carolina; Oseas Gonzalez, 28, of Charlotte, North Carolina; Jose Jonathan Guevara-Castro, 25, formerly of Roosevelt and Annapolis, Maryland; Victor Lopez-Morales, 32, of Roosevelt; Ever Morales-Lopez, 26, of Freeport; David Sosa-Guevara, 28, of Roosevelt; and Kevin Torres, 24, of Freeport.

Two additional MS-13 members, both of whom were juveniles at the time of the alleged crimes, have been charged separately. 

The men were part of two MS-13 cliques, the Hollywood Locos Salvatruchas and the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas. Torres, who also went by “Quieto” and “Inquieto,” is suspected of being the leader of the Sailors. 

The men are accused of murdering Oscar Acosta, 19, in Brentwood; Kerin Pineda, 20, on the border of Freeport and Merrick; Josue Amaya-Leonor, 19, in Roosevelt; Javier Castillo, 15, in Freeport; Carlos Ventura-Zelaya, 24, in Roosevelt; and Angel Soler, 15, in Roosevelt. 

“This indictment strikes yet another heavy blow to MS-13 and will further dismantle the brutal gang that terrorized so many communities,” Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “Thanks to the relentless and collaborative efforts of law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels, MS-13 is on the run, gang violence is down, and our communities are safer.”

“The six victims of gruesome murders are a stark reminder that we must continue our enforcement of all illegal gangs and never stop pursuing justice,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. “ I congratulate all of the investigators and their respective agencies for their hard work and dedication, who continue to work together to bring an end to this violence.”

According to the indictment letter, the Sailors and Hollywood cliques were active in Roosevelt and Freeport, and the eight men are suspected to have acted in behalf of MS-13 leaders to murder potential rival gang members. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the NCPD investigated the cases. 

Law enforcement officials said Torres took the lead in murdering Acosta, Pineda and Castillo. 

On April 29, 2016, the Sailors lured Acosta to a wooded area near a school in Brentwood, according to the indictment letter. Officials said the gang members, under Torres’s orders, brutally attacked Acosta with tree limbs and bound his hands and feet once he was unconscious. He was then slashed with a machete and buried in a shallow grave, which was found in September 2016. 

On May 21, 2016, Torres approved the murder of Pineda, officials said. Gonzalez, Guevara-Castro, Lopez-Morales, Morales-Lopez, Sosa-Guevara and Torres lured Pineda to a wooded area near the Merrick-Freeport border to kill him. While Torres, Lopez-Morales and Sosa-Guevara acted as lookouts, the other members attacked Pineda and killed him. 

Officials said Torres also spearheaded the murder of Castillo. The Sailors invited Castillo, of Central Islip, to come to Cow Meadow Park to smoke marijuana on Oct. 10, 2016. The gang members then assaulted Castillo and took turns slashing him. His body was buried at the park, and it was not discovered until October 2017. 

Along with the murders, the eight suspects were charged with attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, conspiracy, narcotics trafficking and racketeering. 

The indictments are part of the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to dismantle MS-13’s activities on Long Island. In 2019, U.S. Attorney William Genera Bar created the Joint Task Force Vulcan under orders from President Donald Trump to eliminate MS-13 following the series of murders on Long Island.  

“[The] Joint Task Force Vulcan’s operations have significantly degraded MS-13’s capabilities,” Barr said. “While there is still work to be done, the Department of Justice remains committed to protecting Americans threatened by MS-13, and we will not rest until we have successfully defeated this transnational criminal organization.”

"Putting these men in a federal prison for the rest of their lives, or facing possible death sentences, may not mean much to them as members of MS-13 because it fits their macho bravado,” added William Seewney, the FBI assistant director-in-charge,  “but it means a tremendous amount of relief to the communities on Long Island they've terrorized by using machetes to murder teenagers.”