Ten alleged MS-13 members and associates were charged Thursday, May 14, with three murders, attempted murder, murder conspiracy and firearms offenses across four complaints. One of the three murders is the 2018 Kissena Park slaying of 17-year-old Andy Peralta.
“The murders and crimes of violence allegedly committed by these defendants are trademark MS-13 offenses — cold-blooded, senseless and brutally violent — and pose a grave danger to the residents of our communities,” United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in a prepared statement. “Thanks to the hard work of federal and local law enforcement officers, the defendants will now face prosecution for the charged crimes. No matter what obstacles may arise, this Office will not rest until our mission to eradicate the MS-13 threat is accomplished.”
The prosecutors announced the charges against the transnational criminal organization, also known as the Indios Locos Salvatruchas clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, after a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York City Police Department, with assistance from the Queens District Attorney’s Office. According to the complaint, hundreds of MS-13 members have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York since 2003.
“It is only through our joint efforts to relentlessly disrupt and dismantle this kind of senseless criminality that we can continue to keep New Yorkers safe,” stated NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
After more than two years of investigation, the authorities said, the April 23 murder of Peralta was determined have been carried out by MS-13 associate Juan Amaya-Ramirez of Fresh Meadows, 22, who, with two unnamed others, lured the Corona teen into Kissena Park where they beat, stabbed and strangled him to death.
Peralta’s body was discovered by a hiker in a grassy section of the Flushing green space with a slash across his chest where a tattoo of a crown lay. According to the complaint, Amaya-Ramirez noticed the tattoo and mistook it as a symbol of the Latin Kings, a rival gang. After the murder, the assailants used Amaya-Ramirez’s iPhone to photograph Peralta’s corpse, while they displayed MS-13 gang signs with their hands. The photograph was found in Amaya-Ramirez’s iCloud account during a court-authorized search of the account.
The complaint also announced charges for the Nov. 4, 2018 murder of 26-year-old Victor Alvarenga. Allegedly, MS-13 associates Douglas Melgar-Suriano, 24, and Jairo Martinez-Garcia, 21, both of Flushing, along with an unnamed third individual, laid in wait for their victim at approximately 4:30 a.m. When Alvarenga appeared, they walked with him down 160th Street briefly before shooting him multiple times in the head and body. Alvarenga was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Feb. 3, 2019 murder of Abel Mosso was also included in the complaint, though arrests of the suspects were made during that month. Allegedly, gang associates Tito Martinez-Alvarenga, 20, and Victor Lopez, 21, followed Mosso, whom they believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang, onto the No. 7 train at the Main Street station in Flushing, trailed by gang member Ramiro Gutierrez, 27. The associates allegedly assaulted Mosso inside the subway car before dragging him out onto the platform at the 90th Street station in Jackson Heights. They produced a gun, but Mosso wrestled it away.
According to the complaint, Gutierrez shouted in Spanish, “Nobody get involved, we’re MS-13, we’re going to kill him” before grabbing the gun from Mosso and shooting him multiple times. Law enforcement later recovered a video posted on Facebook depicting the murder.
“MS-13 members do all they can to propagate a violent, deadly image as a gang. Their calculation that shouting the gang’s name out in front of people on a subway platform will prevent anyone from interfering with a man being brutally beaten and murdered boggles the mind ... Their violent reputation won’t protect them from going to federal prison,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney.
If convicted of the murders, Amaya-Ramirez, Melgar-Suriano, Martinez-Garcia, Gutierrez, Martinez-Alvarenga and Lopez all face mandatory sentences of life in prison and are eligible for the death penalty.
Also included in the complaint were conspiracy to murder and attempted murder charges — alleged MS-13 members Marlon Saracay-Lopez, 33, and Ismael Santos-Novoa, 31, and alleged gang associate Emerson Martinez-Lara, 21, are charged with conspiring between May 2019 and July 2019 to murder an MS-13 associate who failed to kill a rival gang member on Saracay-Lopez and Santos-Novoa’s orders.
Saracay-Lopez, Santos-Novoa and alleged gang associate Victor Ramirez, 20, are also charged with attempting to murder an 18th Street gang member on Aug. 25, 2019, in Jackson Heights, a shooting incident that wounding an innocent bystander in the leg.
Saracay-Lopez, Santos-Novoa and Ramirez racked up additional firearm charges in addition to attempted murder charges. If convicted of both, the three alleged perpetrators face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. If convicted, Martinez-Lara faces up to 15 years in prison for marijuana distribution conspiracy and murder conspiracy.