Five Members of the MS-13 Street Gang Indicted for Murder, Conspiracy, Assault, and Armed Robbery
Charges Include the November 2009 Murder of 15-Year-Old Christopher Hamilton and the August 2010 Obstruction of Justice Murder of Rigoberto Gomez
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 23, 2012|
EARLIER TODAY, A —count indictment was unsealed at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip, New York, charging five members of La Mara Salvatrucha street gang (the MS-13) with murder in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, armed robberies, firearms offenses, and related conspiracy charges.1 Two of the defendants, Jose Alvarenga, also known as “Fosforo,” and Hector Torres, also known as “Smiley,” are charged with the murder of 15-year-old Christopher Hamilton in 2009, and the murder of Rigoberto Gomez in 2010, both in Brentwood, New York. All five defendants are in custody. Alvarenga and Torres will be arraigned later today before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco, and the other three defendants will be arraigned later this week. When Torres was arrested, law enforcement authorities recovered a defaced 9mm semi-automatic handgun, 9mm ammunition, .22 caliber ammunition and 12 gauge shotgun shells.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Edward Webber, Acting Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department.
As detailed in the indictment and the government’s detention letter filed earlier today, on November 20, 2009, Alvarenga, the leader of the Brentwood Locos Salvatruchas (BLS) clique of MS-13, ordered several MS-13 gang members to attack suspected rival gang members at a house party on American Boulevard in Brentwood. After arming the MS-13 members with a .22 caliber rifle and a semi-automatic handgun from the BLS clique’s arsenal, Alvarenga led them the American Boulevard house. Minutes after arriving, at least three rifle shots were fired by gang members into a crowd of people outside the house—one of them striking Christopher Hamilton in the temple, killing him. Alvarenga is the fifth MS-13 member involved in the Hamilton murder to be charged federally, including the shooter who was a juvenile at the time of the murder and whose case remains under seal.
The indictment and detention letter also allege that in August 2010, members of the Sailors clique of the MS-13 suspected that MS-13 member Rigoberto Gomez was cooperating with local law enforcement. As a result, the Sailors put a “green light” on Gomez, authorizing other MS-13 members to kill Gomez on sight. In the early morning hours of August 31, 2010, defendant Hector Torres, then second in command of the BLS clique, together with a Sailors clique member, who has also been charged federally, spotted Gomez as they drove through Brentwood. They lured Gomez into the car, inviting him to smoke marijuana with them at the nearby Freeman Avenue Park. After exiting the car, Torres stepped behind Gomez and fired a bullet from a .357 caliber revolver into the back of Gomez’s head, and fired a second shot into Gomez’s head after the victim fell to the ground. Torres then handed the gun to the other MS-13 member, who fired a third shot into Gomez’s head.
The indictment also charges Alvarenga and Francisco Ponce, also known as “Spoiler,” with a non-fatal shooting that took place on July 24, 2008, in Timberline Park in Brentwood; Ponce, Freddy Fuentes-Gonzalez, also known as “Pitufo,” and Joyser Velasquez, also known as “Baby Boy,” with the February 15, 2009, conspiracy and armed robbery of the Pollo Campero restaurant in Lindenhurst, New York; Ponce and Velasquez with the December 19, 2009, conspiracy and armed robbery of the Wilson Express Corp., a check-cashing and money transfer business in Patchogue, New York; and Velasquez with a January 20, 2010, conspiracy to rob a McDonald’s restaurant in Smithtown, New York.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. In addition, Alvarenga and Torres, who are charged with the Hamilton and Gomez murders, respectively, each face mandatory life in prison, or the death penalty.
“The MS-13 thrives on violence—violence directed at suspected rivals, as in the Hamilton murder and Timberline Park shooting, violence against its own members, as demonstrated in the Gomez murder, and violence directed at innocent, hard-working Long Islanders, as demonstrated in the armed robberies charged in this indictment,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Today we mark the latest product of the tenacious investigations conducted by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in this case.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk stated, “The indictment illustrates two ongoing themes. MS-13 continues to use violence, including cold-blooded murder, to intimidate rivals and enforce discipline within its own ranks. Charges include the point-blank execution of an MS-13 member suspected of cooperating. And, the FBI and the Long Island Gang Task Force will continue to make cases and arrest MS-13 leaders and members.”
“Gangs are like a cancer on our communities, and unless we deal with them directly, effectively and immediately they will continue to grow,” said Suffolk County Police Department Acting Commissioner Webber. “We will steadfastly work with our local and federal law enforcement partners to put an end to their violent criminal acts.”
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John J. Durham and Raymond A. Tierney.
The charges announced today are the latest in a series of indictments by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York against members of the MS-13, a violent international street gang. Over the past decade, more than 150 MS-13 members, including the leaders of a number of the MS-13 cliques on Long Island, have been arrested and convicted on federal felony charges in this district, including federal racketeering and murder charges. These prosecutions are the result of investigations led by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI, Suffolk County Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and the Suffolk County Probation Department.
JOSE ALVARENGA (a/k/a “Fosforo”) Age: 22
FREDDY FUENTES-GONZALEZ (a/k/a “Pitufo”) Age: 28
FRANCISCO PONCE (a/k/a “Spoiler”) Age: 29
HECTOR TORRES (a/k/a “Smiley”) Age: 20
JOYSER VELASQUEZ (a/k/a “Baby Boy”) Age: 27
1 The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.