MS-13 Gang Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison
Defendant was Convicted of Racketeering and Firearms Offenses, Including Two Murders, Following a Six-Week Trial in February and March 2013
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 21, 2013|
Earlier today, Carlos Ortega, also known as “Silencio,” a former leader of the Sitios Locos Salvatruchas clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13 street gang, was sentenced to life in prison at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Ortega was convicted, on March 21, 2013, following a six-week trial on all counts of the trial indictment, including racketeering, racketeering cnspiracy, murder, assault with dangerous weapons, and related firearms and conspiracy offenses.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Thomas V. Dale, Commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department.
“Ortega’s journey to federal prison began in El Salvador when he joined MS-13 and continued when he illegally entered the U.S. and chose to maintain his allegiance to the gang. Ortega committed heinous acts of violence in the name of MS-13, cutting a swath of murder from Brentwood to Far Rockaway, all within the span of a few weeks,” stated U.S. Attorney Lynch. “From a suspected rival gang member, to an MS-13 gang member who was not violent enough, there was no room for mercy in the gang’s code of enforcing respect through murder. Today’s life sentence is a fitting end to Ortega’s reign of terror. He will now have the rest of his life to contemplate the just results of his allegiance to the killing machine known as MS-13.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to each of the law enforcement agencies for their assistance in this case.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos stated, “The victims were robbed of their futures by the defendant’s senseless killing spree. His cowardly acts have earned him a life sentence. The defendant’s imprisonment should be a reminder to all those who participate in gang activity that violence and victimization of the public will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the FBI. The FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force is committed to ridding the streets of these violent criminals. Our resolve is strong, and we will not stop until every last gang member is brought to justice.”
At trial, the government proved that Ortega, along with his fellow MS-13 gang members, committed two murders and one attempted murder in February and March 2010. First, Ortega was convicted in connection with the murder of 21-year-old David Sandler and the attempted murder of 20-year-old Aaron Galan in Brentwood, New York, on February 17, 2010. Ortega and his fellow MS-13 gang members lured Sandler, whom the MS-13 believed was a member of the rival Latin Kings street gang, to Timberline Drive in Brentwood under the pretext of buying marijuana from him. Once Sandler arrived, Ortega shot him in the face at close range, killing him. Ortega also shot Sandler’s close friend, Galan, who was with Sandler at the time, in the face. Miraculously, Galan survived.
At trial, Ortega was also convicted of the March 17, 2010 murder of Mario Alberto Canton Quijada in Far Rockaway, New York. Quijada, who was a fellow member of the MS-13, was killed because of his reluctance to “put in work,” or attack rival gang members on behalf of the MS-13. On March 17, 2010, Quijada was lured to the beach in Far Rockaway under the guise of attacking rival gang members. Once alone on the beach, the MS-13 gang members tried to shoot Quijada in the head with a semi-automatic handgun, which had been used in several other murders committed by the MS-13, including the murders of a young woman and her 2-year-old son. However, the gun jammed. Undeterred, Ortega and the other MS-13 members set upon Quijada with knifes and machetes and hacked him to death.
Ortega’s conviction is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent international street gang composed primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. With numerous branches, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island. Since 2002, more than 200 MS-13 members, including more than two dozen clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. More than 100 of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges. Since 2010 alone, this office has convicted more than 30 members of the MS-13 on charges relating to their participation in one or more murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, composed of agents and officers of the FBI, Nassau County Police Department, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Suffolk County Probation, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Rockville Centre Police Department, and Suffolk County Police Department.
The life sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John J. Durham, Raymond A. Tierney, and Carrie N. Capwell.
Carlos Ortega, also known as “Silencio” and “Silent” Brentwood, New York
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