A Maryland woman charged in the January slaying of a Valley Stream man lured the victim into the woods at Massapequa Preserve, where he was killed by MS-13 gang members, Nassau police said Friday.
Laura Christina Campos, 28, of Bladensburg, did not respond to reporters’ questions as she was led out of Nassau County police headquarters Friday morning.
Campos was ordered held without bail at her arraignment on a second-degree murder charge in First District Court in Hempstead. She did not enter a plea. Her Legal Aid attorney did not comment.
Campos’ arrest is the latest chapter in the ongoing saga between law enforcement and the vicious transnational gang, whose members were allegedly responsible for the brutal slayings of two high school girls in Brentwood last September and four young men in a Central Islip park in April.
Nassau police officials said the motivation behind the killing of Julio Cesar Gonzales-Espantzay, the victim who was lured by Campos, was prominence within the gang via the death of a supposed rival.
“Stature within the group,” Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick of the homicide squad said Friday morning. “They thought he was associated with a rival group, which he was not, but then he basically became a pawn for somebody else to be moving up in stature.”
Police said they are still looking for other suspects, and more arrests are expected.
Gonzales-Espantzay, 19, was stabbed and shot multiple times, according to court papers. Police said he was was not involved in any gang.
Campos picked up Gonzales-Espantzay and two suspected MS-13 gang members in a car on Jan. 28 and drove them to the park, police said.
“She’s being charged with murder-second because she was well aware what was going to happen to him,” Fitzpatrick said. “She lured him into the car with the idea that he would smoke marijuana and eventually have sex with her.”
Campos and the victim did not know each other, having met through someone else, Fitzpatrick said.
Nearly two months later, on March 23, Gonzales-Espantzay’s body was found by a man walking his dog in the park, police said.
The discovery unnerved residents and visitors to the popular 432-acre Peter J. Schmitt Massapequa Preserve, which includes walking and biking trails, and prompted police to install surveillance cameras.
Nassau police arrested Carlos Portillo, 22, of Hempstead, in July and Kevin Granados-Coreas, 19, of Rosedale, Queens, in August. Both men also were charged with second-degree murder, police said.
Campos, who has no criminal history, was tracked down in Maryland with the assistance of local and federal authorities, Nassau police said.
Law enforcement has zeroed in on gang violence since the bodies of Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, were discovered in Brentwood. Police say the teens were brutally beaten and killed at the hands of MS-13 gang members last September. Months later, the gang beat and mutilated four young men in a Central Islip park, according to police.
The four victims were identified as Justin Llivicura 16, of East Patchogue; Jorge Tigre, 18, of Bellport: Michael Lopez Banegas, 20, of Brentwood; and Jefferson Villalobos, 18, of Pompano Beach, Florida, who was visiting his cousin Banegas.