17 alleged MS-13 members charged with murder and drug trafficking

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Victor Lopez is one of 17 alleged members and associates of MS-13 gang to be indicted on Thursday. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Seventeen alleged members and associates of the MS-13 gang have been indicted on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking both in Nassau County and across several states, District Attorney Madeline Singas announced on Thursday.

The leaders of the two Long Island-based MS-13 subgroups, the “Hollywoods” and “Sailors,” are among the indicted alleged members, Singas said at a press conference.

Singas said the investigations are ongoing and could not reveal the identities of all alleged members, including the Long Island subgroups’ heads.

The highest level leader in the Northeast, Mara Salvatrucha, is also among the indicted men, according to Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James Hunt. 

Salvatrucha reports to MS-13 gang in El Salvador, Hunt said.

More than 22 agencies were involved in the seven-month long investigation, spanning the local, state, and national level, including the Nassau County Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations.

The investigation led to the prevention of at least three homicides, including one in Nassau County, and the discovery that MS-13 was distributing $1 million worth of heroin, Singas said.

The “Hollywood” and “Sailors” leaders allegedly reported to and sent proceeds to gang leaders in El Salvador, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office release.

“The people we have arrested and charged are people that are operating at a very high level and directing operations at a lower level to many more gang members,” Singas said. “Their leaders are gone and charged and we are hoping they are dismantled, and we’ll continue to make sure that happens.”

Two of the defendants, David Sosa Guevara and Victor Lopez, were allegedly involved in the July 21 murder of 15-year-old Angel Soler in Nassau County, according to the release.

Soler’s body was mutilated and found on Oct. 1 in a remote wooded area in Roosevelt with cement poured over it, according to the release.

Lopez, the first of the 17 alleged members to be arraigned, pleaded not guilty, according to Newsday.

The “Hollywoods” and “Sailors” expanded their reach from Long Island and allegedly conspired to commit three separate murders in Nassau County, Elizabeth, N.J., and Prince George’s County, Md., according to officials.

These plans were stopped by the combined efforts of the different law enforcement departments involved, according to the release.

The alleged Nassau County murder was planned to take place on July 19 in the Freeport area, according to the release.

Kevin Cuevas Del Cid and Augustine Benitez allegedly conspired to lure a victim into the woods by promising marijuana and then allegedly intended to kill him, according to the release.

“This is one of the biggest takedowns we’ve had, in this office certainly,” Singas said. “But more importantly this investigation has given us information we didn’t have before and will help lead our way … to taking down more [MS-13 members].”

MS-13 gang aims to gain control through violence, Hunt said.

“Today we took that control away from them,” Hunt said in a statement.

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