A Nassau County judge Friday offered the alleged MS-13 gang East Coast leader a deal to spend 15 years behind bars on New York drug trafficking and conspiracy charges after learning he’s now also facing a federal racketeering case in Maryland.
The Nassau district attorney’s office has accused Miguel Angel Corea Diaz, 36, of carrying out major drug trafficking as well as conspiring on Long Island to commit murder in his alleged role as the transnational gang’s eastern region kingpin.
The New Jersey man is among 17 defendants named in a January 2018 indictment that local prosecutors said delivered a heavy blow to the gang’s infrastructure after a probe that included a $1 million heroin seizure and the foiling of murder plots involving a Long Island clique of the gang.
In April, Corea Diaz pleaded not guilty in Nassau County Court to three counts of operating as a major drug trafficker and five counts of second-degree conspiracy.
Prosecutors have alleged Corea Diaz, known by the street name “Reaper,” reported directly to MS-13’s leaders in El Salvador. They said he faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top charge against him in New York.
Wearing handcuffs and shackles, the resident of Long Branch, New Jersey, appeared in court in Mineola on Friday for a conference during which news of his recent federal indictment emerged.
Corea Diaz could get up to life in prison if convicted in the federal case, in which he has yet to be arraigned, according to Marcia Murphy, a U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman in Maryland.
In Mineola, acting State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Harrington said after speaking with prosecutor Veronica Guariglia and defense attorney Scott Gross that the district attorney’s office was recommending 15 years to life if Corea Diaz pleaded guilty to the major drug trafficking charge in New York.
But Harrington said if Corea Diaz was willing to plead guilty, she would give him 15 years flat. The judge said she would revoke the offer if Corea Diaz didn’t take it by his Feb. 15 court date.
“That is the best I will ever do and I’m doing that because he is also indicted federally and he will be deported after he serves his sentence,” Harrington said.
The judge added that her plea offer also was “in the interest of judicial economy,” saying a trial would take “a number of months” and include “a lot of wiretap information.”
Court records show Corea Diaz faces a federal charge of conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise, in a Dec. 17 indictment that also names eight other alleged MS-13 members or associates.
The indictment alleges Corea Diaz in March 2017 helped arrange travel from Maryland to Virginia for members of the gang’s Sailors clique so they could murder someone, and also took part in phone calls connected to the slaying.
Corea Diaz and another defendant were added to the accusations in a superseding indictment of an existing federal case, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The allegations include that multiple murders, along with drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering and robbery, were part of the MS-13 gang’s racketeering conspiracy in the Maryland area.
Gross declined to comment Friday on his client’s federal indictment.
But the Garden City attorney said he would discuss Harrington’s plea offer with his client, then “weigh all options and make an educated decision on how to proceed.”
Corea Diaz’s brother, who was among three supporters in court for the defendant Friday, later declined to comment.
The alleged gangster previously complained to the judge about his incarceration in Nassau’s jail, saying he was a father who didn’t have time to speak to his children because of what his attorney described as a 23-hour-a-day lockdown.
Corea Diaz has been in the East Meadow facility since his April extradition from Maryland, where he was being held in a county jail on separate felony drug charges.
A spokesman for the Nassau district attorney’s office, which in June made a plea offer to Corea Diaz of 7 to 21 years in prison, declined to comment Friday.