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Federal witness says she will be 'forever' haunted by slain toddler

An undated photo of Adalberto Guzman, MS-13 gang

An undated photo of Adalberto Guzman, MS-13 gang member involved in the killing of the 19-year-old mother, Vanessa Argueta her 2-year-old son Diego Torres. Credit: Handout

A government witness said Tuesday that she thought she would be forever haunted when she discovered that the man accused of killing a 2-year-old and his 19-year-old mother had given the toddler's toy ball to her daughter.

"I was scared because I felt like . . . the little kid was gonna come and haunt me back," Carla Santos tells Adalberto Guzman, as heard on an FBI recording played in federal court in Central Islip. Guzman, now on trial, had given her 4-year-old daughter, Krissia, the ball.

" 'Mami, look at my ball. Look at my ball,' " Santos quotes her daughter as saying in the telephone call to Guzman. "And I see her with the ball and I'm bugging out."

" 'Krissa, give me that,' " she says she told her daughter. "And I wiped it down [of fingerprints] and I threw it out."

Guzman is charged with conspiracy to murder the 2-year-old, Diego Torres, and his mother, Vanessa Argueta, in February 2010 in a wooded area of Central Islip. Guzman, along with two others including Argueta's former boyfriend, Juan Garcia, and another member of MS-13, are said to have killed Argueta and Torres as revenge for Argueta's having members of a rival gang unsuccessfully attempt to harm Garcia.

Eastern District federal prosecutor John Durham questioned Santos about the recordings during her testimony. Santos, a longtime associate of the MS-13 Street gang, agreed to become an FBI informant in March 2010, a month after the murders. She made several tapes, using an FBI-supplied cellphone to call Guzman, who was then hiding out in El Salvador.

The ball Guzman allegedly took from the boy had a picture of the character Diego from the children's cartoon show "Dora the Explorer."

When Santos tells Guzman that she has thrown the ball out, he says on the tape, "You should have sent it to me . . . [it was a] good memory."

Santos replies, "That is not a good memory. That is . . . ---- mean."

Guzman's only response, according to the tape, is to laugh.

Santos said in previous testimony that immediately after the killings, Garcia, Argueta's former boyfriend, was "really, really upset . . . His eyes were all puffy . . . He just couldn't stop crying. He just blurted out that he had killed Vanessa."

On another tape, Guzman tells Santos that Garcia wants to quit the MS-13 because of his grief over the killings. Guzman is enraged, because he said no one quits MS-13, and says on the tape, "the guy is going to be sleeping with the worms very soon."

On the tape, Guzman describes the murders as "a simple kill" and says, "We are homies, understand. And you agreed to be hard core with this from the beginning and you have to stay hard core to the end."

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