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Six alleged MS-13 gang members indicted in Nassau for roles in Lawrence killing, records and sources say

Three adults and three juveniles face murder charges in the December slaying of Harold Sermeno, 17, in Lawrence, court records show.

Bayswater Point State Park in Far Rockaway, where

Bayswater Point State Park in Far Rockaway, where one of the killings allegedly took place. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

A Nassau grand jury has indicted six alleged MS-13 gang members in connection with a slaying in Lawrence in which investigators believe the victim was lured to his death, according to records and sources.

Five of the six indicted were also charged in connection with a Queens slaying. In the Queens case, investigators think the victim was drawn in with the promise of a sexual rendezvous by a 13-year-old girl, sources said.

Three adults and three juveniles face a murder charge in the December slaying of Harold Sermeno, 17, in Lawrence, court records show.

Police recovered the Far Rockaway teen’s body on Dec. 18 behind the Five Towns Community Center.

An indictment alleges that Sermeno died after his killers planned his execution, then carried it out by shooting him and slicing his neck with a machete.

Four of the defendants also face murder charges in the December killing of Ian Michael Cruz, 23, in Queens, the indictment shows. New York City police previously arrested a fifth person on weapons charges related to the case.

The Nassau indictment says Cruz was shot in the head on Dec. 15 in Bayswater Point State Park in Far Rockaway.

A high-ranking New York City law enforcement official told Newsday later in December that investigators believed the Queens and Nassau slayings were linked after the arrests of five people who shared the same Far Rockaway address, including the 13-year-old girl, in connection with Cruz’s homicide.

The official said at the time that police suspected the 13-year-old lured Cruz — possibly a member of the rival 18th Street gang — to the park after the online promise of sex, Newsday previously reported.

Investigators believe Sermeno — who was believed to be a Latin Kings gang member — was lured to his death at the community center days later, according to the same source.

The Nassau indictment also charges some of the accused with conspiracy to commit murder and weapons charges.

Five of the defendants named in the Nassau indictment had faced prosecution in New York City after their December arrests in connection with the Queens killing, sources said.

A Nassau grand jury later indicted a group of six in connection with the Lawrence case and all the defendants will be prosecuted on Long Island, sources said Wednesday.

The Nassau district attorney’s office declined to make any comment.

But a court official said the law allows authorities to prosecute defendants in nearby jurisdictions if the alleged crimes are committed within a certain distance of the geographic border.

Records show Carlos Guerra, 18, pleaded not guilty Monday in Nassau County Court to two counts of second-degree murder and conspiracy and weapons charges in connection with the slayings.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Tammy Robbins ordered him remanded to jail after his plea.

Records show Guerra and co-defendant Yonathan Sanchez, 22, were jailed on Rikers Island when a Nassau judge signed warrants for their arrests earlier this month.

Guerra’s Mineola attorney, Jeffrey Groder, said Wednesday he was appointed to the case only recently and had to investigate the charges against his client before commenting.

Sanchez also pleaded not guilty Monday to both slayings and conspiracy and weapons charges before Robbins remanded him to jail, too.

“I’m sure the evidence will exonerate him,” Sanchez’s Astoria attorney, Michael Horn, said Wednesday.

A Nassau prosecutor told the judge while asking for remand for Guerra and Sanchez that besides murder, both were accused of conspiring to commit the slayings with people younger than 16.

One of those accused in the Nassau slaying was 15 years old at the time of that crime, records show.

Three juveniles named in the indictment are scheduled to be arraigned in Nassau next week, and another adult defendant is expected to be arraigned in the county in the future, a court official said Wednesday.

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