A man who belonged to MS-13 was the second gang member to be arrested on Long Island in less than a week for illegally re-entering the United States after serving time in state prison in connection with a killing, according to officials.
William Martinez Chavez, 38, a Salvadorean national who had served 15 years in state prison in connection with a stabbing death, was arrested Tuesday morning outside his Huntington house by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Last week, Gerson Eli Turcios Maradiaga, 28, of Levittown, a member of the 18th Street gang, also was arrested for illegal re-entry, officials said.
Turcios, who was arrested in Nassau County, had served about 5 years in prison in connection with a 2008 crime in Westbury in which 18th Street gang members opened fire on four people they mistakenly believed to be members of MS-13, officials said. One of the victims was killed and the other three were wounded. Turcios, a Honduran national, had been deported to Honduras in 2012 after serving his sentence, officials said.
“This office is firmly committed to prosecuting criminals who illegally re-enter the United States, especially MS-13 gang members who break into the country after deportations resulting from violent criminal convictions,” Eastern District U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement.
Martinez was convicted in 2002 of manslaughter for stabbing a man to death during a 2000 fight outside a Huntington deli, according to court records. A Suffolk jury acquitted him of murder in the case.
In 2017, after serving 15 years, Martinez was released from prison and deported to his native El Salvador, the records said. Shortly after he was deported, Martinez re-entered the United States, according to sources familiar with the case.
Martinez told officials who arrested him Tuesday that he had belonged to MS-13 in the past, but said he was no longer a member, according to a federal complaint in the case. Sources said Martinez now claims that at the time of the stabbing he was not a member of MS-13, but joined the gang in prison for protection.
A photo of Martinez attached to the complaint shows his chest and abdomen covered with MS-13 tattoos.
Officials would not say how they located Martinez. He was held without bail at arraignment in federal court in Central Islip.
In the case of Turcios, he was also held without bail after arraignment last week at federal court in Central Islip. Turcios was initially arrested last week by Nassau police when he was found with marijuana after a car he was riding in was stopped, officials said.
In 2008, according to officials, Turcios, then 17, was one of the five members of the 18th Street gang who attacked the four victims outside Club La Boom on Old Country Road in Westbury.
Turcios was originally charged with murder but convicted of manslaughter after an investigation showed he was not one of the shooters, according to his lawyer, federal public defender Randi Chavis.
Chavis said at the hearing for Turcios on Friday that several of the people he was with got much longer prison sentences, and that her client has always denied he was an 18th Street member.
Police said that the 2008 incident began when an 18th Street associate called a gang member to complain he was being hassled by MS-13 members at the nightclub.
The victims were mistaken for MS-13 members because they were wearing blue clothes — an MS-13 color — and because they were seen “shaking hands with and conversing with” known members of MS-13, a detective said at the time.
“It’s kind of guilt by association,” the detective said.