BROOKLYN, N.Y. - The chapter leader of a violent international street gang in New York was arraigned Friday in federal court on a superseding indictment charging him with murder, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Hector Aleman Lemos, 31, of Flushing, N.Y., is charged with the September 2007 murder of John Halley, 25, of Yonkers, N.Y. Lemos, who also went by the name "Diablito," was the head of the Queens, N.Y., chapter of the street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly referred to as MS-13.
Court documents and the superseding indictment detail how in the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2007, the defendant and several other MS-13 gang members allegedly drove through the streets of Yonkers armed with a handgun, looking to commit a drive-by shooting. At about 12:10 a.m., they saw three young men, one of whom was Halley, standing on a street corner.
Believing the men to be members of a rival street gang, Lemos jumped from the vehicle, approached the three men, and shot Halley twice. Halley died at the scene.
"As the court documents allege, the defendant set out with the sole purpose of committing a violent crime. While his actions illustrate how senseless gang activity is, it underscores why law enforcement agencies work together to restore our communities and beat back this type of vicious activity," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New York.
This superseding indictment is the latest in a series of indictments from the Eastern District of New York charging members of MS-13, a gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador. With hundreds of members locally, MS-13 has a strong presence in Queens and is the largest street gang on Long Island, N.Y. Over the past decade, more than 120 MS-13 soldiers and leaders have been convicted in this district of violent federal crimes, including racketeering, assault, and murder.
"MS-13 is an exceptionally violent organization, whose members will not hesitate to commit murder in furtherance of the gang's criminal objectives," said Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. "We will spare no effort to disrupt and dismantle this gang and to bring the perpetrators of gang violence to justice."
If convicted, Lemos faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty. The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ali Kazemi and Jason A. Jones.
ICE HSI was joined in the investigation by the Yonkers Police Department. Charges contained in the superseding indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.