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Over a dozen Mara Salvatrucha gang members indicted on 7 murders including killings of N.Y. teens

March 4, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Over a dozen Mara Salvatrucha gang members indicted on 7 murders including killings of N.Y. teens

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Feds indict over a dozen Mara Salvatrucha gang members indicted on 7 murders

On Thursday, thirteen members of the infamous Salvadoran Mara Salvatrucha  or MS-13 gang were charged in connection with seven murders including the 2016 slayings of high schoolers in Long Island, New York.

The gang members were charged with 41 counts which also include attempted murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, and assault, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers revealed on Thursday.

Four suspects were charged with the killings of Kayla Cuevas, 16 and Nisa Mickens, 15, a pair of close friends who were fatally beaten in September 2016 in Brentwood, NY.

Four other accomplices were directly involved in the murder of 18-year-old Jose Peña-Hernandez, whose remains were found on the grounds of the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood back in October.

Ten of the suspects are illegals, two are U.S. citizens, and one has a green card, Capers indicated. He would not reveal if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is involved in the case.

A poster shows pictures of two of the slain teenagers and an offer of a reward

Law enforcement officials said four of the suspects were taken into custody after a raid that took place early Thursday and will be in federal court on Friday. Two are still on the lam, while the remaining are already in custody, NBC New York reported.

Mickens and Cuevas were brutally murdered in a residential neighborhood close to an elementary school in an attack that came in the midst of a national conversation about immigration.

On September 13th, one day before her 16th birthday, Mickens’ brutally beaten body was discovered. The next day, the beaten remains of her friend, Cuevas, was found up in the backyard of a nearby home. The teens were inseparable and shared an interest in basketball.

Capers said that brothers Alexi Saenz and Jairo Saenz are the leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha who ordered Cuevas’ murder in retaliation for her calling out the gang out at school and on social media. He said Enrique Portillo and two minors have also been charged with slaying Cuevas and Mickens.

“The day Mickens and Cuevas were heinously murdered, the Suffolk County Police made a commitment to their families and the residents of Brentwood that justice would be served. Today, in collaboration with the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office, we have delivered that promise,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini announced.

Evelyn Rodriguez, the mother of Kayla Cuevas, one of two Long Island teenagers who were killed last year, spoke with members of the news media on Thursday.

Elmer Lopez and German Cruz and two other fugitives have been charged with Peña-Hernandez’s murder, who authorities said was an MS-13 member and was executed because he was suspected of breaking gang rules. A third juvenile member has also been charged with the Peña-Hernandez murder.

Peña-Hernandez’s was killed in June 2016, but his remains were not located until October.

Officers also recovered the skeletal remains of 19-year-old Oscar Acosta and 15-year-old Miguel Garcia-Moran in an isolated industrial area of the city.

Acosta was reported missing in May, and Garcia-Moran disappeared last February. None of the suspects indicted have been charged with their killings.

Robert L. Capers, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, before a news conference on Thursday.

Authorities have said that Mara Salvatrucha is the largest gang on Long Island with Suffolk County “cliques” collected in the villages of Brentwood, Huntington, Copiague, Farmingdale, and Islip. The group has been accused of 30 other murders on Long Island since 2010.

“For too long, MS-13 has been meting out their version of the death penalty,” Capers added.

Since the killings last fall, Suffolk police have apprehended over 125 suspected MS-13 members in Brentwood and elsewhere.

In an interview with Fox News, Simi said that violent crimes have gone down more than 45% since the fall.

“Today marks the beginning of healing for the families and the community. It’s a great day for justice… but the job is not done,” he added.

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