Two alleged members of the MS-13 street gang pleaded not guilty Monday at arraignment in federal District Court in Central Islip to a variety of charges, including murder and attempted murder.
They were part of a larger group of gang members who were charged and arraigned last week in a superseding indictment that included previous and new charges. The indictment charges two dozen reputed members of the gang with 73 counts, including murder, attempted murder, racketeering, arson and distribution of drugs.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco ordered the two — Nelson Argueta-Quintanilla, 21, and Marlon Serrano, 20, both of Brentwood — permanently detained pending trial as dangers to the community and flight risks.
Argueta-Quintanilla is charged with taking part in the April 2016 slaying in Brentwood of Oscar Acosta, 19, who was believed to be an associate of the 18th Street gang, rivals of MS-13, according to federal prosecutors. Argueta-Quintanilla was also charged with the attempted murder in Brentwood of several other members of rival gangs and conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana.
Serrano is also charged with attempted murders in Brentwood of rival gang members, arson, as well as conspiracy to distribute drugs.
Argueta-Quintanilla’s attorney, Lawrence Gerzog of Manhattan, declined to comment, as did Serrano’s attorney, William Wexler of Babylon.
Because Argueta-Quintanilla potentially faces a federal death penalty in the Acosta killing, Judge Bianco said he would appoint a special counsel to help deal with that issue, which is customary in such cases.
Other alleged MS-13 members named in the superseding indictment had previously been charged with the 2016 Brentwood killings of two school girls — Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16. Argueta-Quintanilla and Serrano are not accused in those crimes.