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MS-13 gang member admits luring teen to Central Islip woods and killing him, feds say

Police at scene where a 15-year-old was slain

Police at scene where a 15-year-old was slain in a gang murder next to a mosque in a wooded area in Central Islip on Aug. 7, 2019. Credit: James Carbone

An MS-13 gang member admitted Wednesday to luring a teenager to the woods of Central Islip two years ago, shooting him multiple times and leaving him to die, federal prosecutors said.

Jose Omar Sorto Portillo, 18, pleaded guilty in federal court in Central Islip to murder in aid of racketeering for his role in the 2019 murder of 15-year-old Jasson Medrano-Molina.

"With today’s guilty plea, the defendant admitted shooting a 15-year-old alleged rival gang member to death at close range in a meaningless effort to boost his status as an MS-13 gang member," said Breon Peace, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Portillo, of Central Islip, was 16 at the time of the murder and initially charged as a juvenile, prosecutors said. Before pleading guilty, Portillo consented to being transferred to adult status in the case.

His defense attorney, Joseph Ferrante of Hauppauge, did not respond to a request for comment.

"MS-13 will stop at nothing in their reign of terror, including this senseless murder of a teenager," said acting Suffolk Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron.

Portillo and other MS-13 gang members wanted to hurt or kill individuals during the summer of 2019 that they thought were rivals, including the victim, to elevate their positions in the organization, prosecutors said in court filings.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 2019, two MS-13 co-conspirators lured Medrano-Molina and two others to a wooded area where Portillo was waiting, armed with a .40 caliber handgun, prosecutors said.

Portillo shot the victim multiple times at close range and Medrano-Molina died at the scene, authorities said. The other two individuals were able to escape unharmed.

"This senseless murder was characteristic of MS-13’s M.O., which is to commit acts of violence against anyone perceived as an enemy, even when that person is only a 15-year-old child," said Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini.

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