13 gang members indicted for murders in New York, 11 face death penalty

The U.S. Department of Justice said it has indicted 13 alleged MS-13 gang members for the murder of seven people in Long Island, N.Y., including the killing of three high school students.

The alleged MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, members are charged with racketeering, seven murders, attempted murders, assaults, obstruction of justice, arson and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. They also face firearms and conspiracy charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.

An unidentified member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang in his cell block in Criminal Sampedrano prison in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on May 28, 2013. The Justice Department on Thursday said it has indicted 13 alleged MS-13 gang members for the murder of 7 people in Long Island, N.Y., including the killing three high school students. File Photo by STR/EPA

The Justice Department said authorities searched the home of alleged MS-13 leaders Alexi “Blasty” Saenz, who is also known as “Big Homie,” and Jairo “Funny” Saenz on Thursday. Investigators found a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun, ammunition for weapons of different calibers, machetes, a sword, a hatchet and knives. They also found marijuana packaged for sale and MS-13 paraphernalia, officials said.

MS-13 was established in Los Angeles, Calif., and is mostly made up of people from Central America, mainly from El Salvador and Honduras.

Some of the alleged gang members are charged in the deaths of Brentwood High School students Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, who were killed Sept. 13, and Jose Pena, also a Brentwood High School student who was killed separately on June 3 “but whose skeletonized remains were not recovered until October 17.”

“The brutal murders of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, and the savage killing of Jose Pena, allegedly committed by these defendants, exemplify the depravity of a gang whose primary mission is murder,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Robert L. Capers said in a statement. “As the MS-13 continues its efforts to expand and entrench itself in our communities, both by sending gang members to illegally enter the United States from Central America, and by recruiting new members from our schools and neighborhoods, this office and the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force will continue our mission to dismantle the MS-13 and free our neighborhoods from the terror they cause.”

All alleged MS-13 members charged face a sentence of life in prison. Eleven face the death penalty.


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