A Nassau County judge Monday sentenced an MS-13 clique leader to 25 years in prison for ordering the 2017 killing of a Hempstead auto shop worker mistakenly deemed a rival of the gang.
Ramon Martines, 39, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty in September to first-degree manslaughter and conspiracy for planning the killing of Nelson Rodriguez, 39, as he walked on Front Street after leaving work, said officials with the Nassau County District Attorney's office.
At the time of the victim's death, Martines' clique had been looking to shoot and kill a rival 14th Street Gang member as revenge for attacking an MS-13 member. Rodriguez did not belong to a gang, prosecutors said.
Martines was the leader of the Hempstead Locos Salvatrucha and drove from Uniondale to Hempstead looking for members of the 14th Street Gang.
He and members of the MS-13 gang drove in circles searching for rivals when they spotted Rodriguez.
Prosecutors said another MS-13 member, Pedro Rivera, was ordered to kill Rodriguez, “because he was a perceived enemy of MS-13. As the then-leader of the clique, the murder was sanctioned by the defendant.”
Rivera got out of the car and began following Rodriguez, prosecutors said. Rivera passed Rodriguez and then turned around and shot him once in the head and again in the back after he fell to the ground, according to prosecutors.
“As the leader of a local MS-13 clique in Hempstead, this defendant exercised his control by sanctioning the senseless murder of a 39-year-old man as he left work because the defendant perceived him to be an enemy and member of a rival gang,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement. “Tragically, that was not the case, and the man was shot several times and killed. We continue to aggressively pursue cases against MS-13 members and their leaders, remove these dangerous actors from our streets, and keep our communities safe.”
A jury convicted Rivera and the driver of the car, Carlos Flores, of second-degree murder, conspiracy and weapons charges in 2019. They were each sentenced to 50 years-to-life in prison.
Another defendant charged in the case, Hector Lazo, is awaiting sentencing.