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Accused gang member charged in Uniondale murder of reputed rival gang member, cops say

Nassau police guard the Uniondale site where human

Nassau police guard the Uniondale site where human remains were discovered in October 2020. The remains were eventually identified as those of reputed gang member Osmin Campos-Sandoval, who was murdered in 2016. Credit: Howard Schnapp

An alleged MS-13 gang member has been charged in the murder of a reputed rival gang member who was ambushed in Uniondale woods years ago before investigators discovered his remains last year, Nassau County police said.

Christian Rodriguez, 23, of Hempstead, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the June 2016 scheme to kill Osmin Campos-Sandoval, 19, Nassau police said Tuesday.

Investigators had previously said Campos-Sandoval, also of Hempstead, was killed because he was a member of the 18th Street gang. His remains were recovered in October 2020.

Police said MS-13 members, including Campos-Sandoval's former girlfriend — Sandra Tobar Mejia, 22, of Hempstead — smoked marijuana with the victim in the woods near the Uniondale water tower before the fatal attack. Tobar Mejia was arrested in February and is also charged with second-degree murder.

Rodriguez was held without bail at the Nassau County jail Tuesday after his arraignment, authorities said. Prosecutors said Rodriguez was also indicted in January 2020 on second-degree murder for his role in the machete slaying of Bryan Steven Cho Lemus, 18, of Uniondale, in the Massapequa Park Preserve in 2016.

Rodriguez's attorney, William Kephart of Garden City, said he is defending his client on both homicides.

He said of Rodriguez's latest case: "It's obviously a very old charge. We need to take our time doing an investigation and trying to catch up, to see what his involvement is, if any."

Rodriguez was one of four alleged MS-13 gang members indicted in the killing of Lemus. Authorities discovered Lemus' body in a shallow grave in May 2019.

Police said Lemus, who was associated with the MS-13 gang, was lured into the woods and attacked with machetes by MS-13 gang members.

His body was discovered by Nassau police after multiple digs at the 432-acre site by homicide detectives using a backhoe and rakes.

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