Three alleged MS-13 gang members were arraigned Friday on murder charges in connection with the killing last year of an 18-year-old in a Massapequa preserve, Nassau County prosecutors said.
“These defendants allegedly attempted to move up the MS-13 hierarchy by luring their teenage victim into the woods and brutally murdering him,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement.
Carlos Portillo, 23; Kevin Granados-Coreas, 19; and Laura Campos, 28, all of Hempstead, were indicted Wednesday.
Each was charged with second-degree murder and face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. They are being held without bail and are due back in court March 12.
Authorities say the defendants acted together to lure Julio Espantzay-Gonzalez of Hempstead to the Peter J. Schmitt Massapequa Preserve on Jan. 17, 2017, where they attacked him with a machete and shot him several times. They allegedly promised him sex and drugs.
His semi-buried body was discovered inside the preserve two months later by a man walking his dog.
According to authorities, the defendants believed Espantzay-Gonzalez was a member of the rival 18th Street gang, and killed him to improve their status in MS-13. Police have said the victim was not a gang member.
Two unidentified defendants already in custody will be arraigned at a later date in connection with the killing, officials said.
Antonio Cullal, 23, originally from Hempstead, was arraigned in connection with the killing in October. He defiantly flashed gang signs and shouted “MS-13” while being escorted by police.
Police said Cullal was an immigrant without legal documents from El Salvador. Though he had been deported, he returned to this country illegally and had been living in Maryland at the time of his arrest, authorities said.
MS-13 killings have shaken Long Island in recent years. Authorities have intensified their crackdown on the gang, which targets those who members believe have disrespected the gang or served as members of rival gangs.
The gang-related violence has prompted visits here by President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The slaying of Espantzay-Gonzalez rocked residents around the 432-acre park in Massapequa, and officials responded by saying they would install security cameras there.
“We are committed to holding these alleged predators accountable for this horrific crime, and will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners at every level to end MS-13’s reign of terror,” Singas said.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said on Friday, April 14, 2017, that police are continuing their investigation into the brutal slayings of four young men found in a Central Islip park this week, adding that "all indications are that this is the work of MS-13," a violent gang thought to be behind a spate of killings in the area.Three MS-13 gang members sentenced for murderThree MS-13 gang members from a Brentwood clique were sentenced Thursday to between 24 and ...