NEW YORK - A federal jury convicted two leaders of the international street gang MS-13 Monday of murder in-aid-of-racketeering and other charges, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Oscar Fuentes, 30, and Julio Chavez, 25, both of Huntington, N.Y., were convicted following three hours of deliberation by the jury. Fuentes, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, was the state leader of the New York MS-13 chapters; Chavez was the leader of the Huntington chapter of MS-13.
The jury convicted both men of committing the May 2007 murder of 21-year-old Maurice Parker in Flushing, New York, and using a firearm in furtherance of the murder. Fuentes was also convicted of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
The evidence at trial established that, in the early morning hours of May 18, 2007, the defendants and other MS-13 gang members drove through the streets of Flushing, armed with a gun, and looking to shoot rival gang members. Around 12:30 a.m., they saw two young men, Maurice Parker and his friend, standing outside a store at 41-80 Bowne Street.
Parker's friend was wearing a red sweatshirt - a color often worn by members of the rival Bloods street gang. Chavez and a second gang member jumped from the vehicle driven by Fuentes, ran up to the two men, and Chavez shot Maurice Parker six times, including three shots to the head. Maurice Parker died at the scene.
"This conviction of two ranking MS - 13 gang members is yet another positive step towards eliminating the intimidation, fear and violence perpetrated against the public at large by these gangs who often prey upon members of their community," said James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the New York HSI office.
"Today's verdicts should remind street gangs of the dire consequences of committing acts of violence in this district," said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. "While we can only hope that the verdicts will provide some measure of closure to the family of a young man killed indiscriminately, the convictions have ensured that the defendants will never again walk the streets of our city."
The defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. MS-13 is a violent international street gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. With hundreds of members locally, MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island and has a presence in Queens, New York.
Over the past five years, investigations by the U.S. Attorney's office, HSI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York Police Department (NYPD) have solved multiple murders on Long Island and in New York City. This has lead to more than 120 felony convictions of 120 MS-13 leaders and soldiers.
HSI was assisted in this investigation by the NYPD. The government's case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason A. Jones, Ali Kazemi and Shreve Ariail.