M-13 gang leader sentenced to life in prison
Convicted of racketeering, firearms offenses
On Monday at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y., Heriberto “Boxer: Martinez, the former leader of the Coronados clique of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the MS-13 street gang, was sentenced to life in prison.
Martinez and co-defendant Carlos Ortega, also known as “Silencio,” were convicted on March 21, 2013, following a six-week trial, on all 21 counts of the trial indictment, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, murder, assault with dangerous weapons and related firearms and conspiracy offenses. Ortega was sentenced to life in prison on Nov. 21, 2013.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, assistant director-in-charge, FBI, New York Field Office; and Thomas V. Dale, commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department.
“Heriberto Martinez placed less value on human lives than he did on enforcing the barbaric rules of the MS-13, and, as a leader of the MS-13, making sure other gang members were doing the same. In keeping with those twisted rules, during a six-week period in early 2010, Martinez authorized the execution of a young mother, whom he believed had disrespected the gang, ordered the execution of a security guard for doing his job, and both advocated for and carried out the execution of a fellow MS-13 member who refused to commit senseless, violent crimes,” stated U.S. Attorney Lynch.
At trial, the government proved that Martinez, along with his fellow MS-13 gang members, killed multiple victims between February and March of 2010:
* Martinez was convicted in connection with the execution-style murder of Vanessa Argueta, a 19-year-old woman, in Central Islip, N.Y., on Feb. 5, 2010. Martinez also was convicted of being an accessory after-the-fact in the murder of Argueta and her 2-year-old son, Diego Torres, who was shot and killed during the same criminal incident.
* Martinez also was convicted in connection with the execution-style murder of 23-year-old Nestor Moreno, a security guard at El Rancho Bar and Grill in Hempstead, N.Y., on March 6, 2010. In late February 2010, Martinez and several other members of the MS-13 were involved in a dispute with El Rancho employees over an unpaid bar tab. The dispute escalated into a physical altercation during which Martinez was sprayed with pepper spray. Before leaving El Rancho, Martinez identified himself as an MS-13 member and told Moreno, “It’s not going to end like this.” On March 6, 2010, Martinez and with four co-conspirator returned to El Rancho and shot Moreno in the head at point-blank range.
* Both Martinez and Ortega were convicted for the March 17, 2010, murder of Mario Alberto Canton Quijada in Far Rockaway. Quijada, who was a fellow member of the MS-13, was killed because of his reluctance to “put in work,” or attack rival gang members on behalf of the MS-13.
Martinez’s conviction is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent international street gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Since 2002, more than 200 MS-13 members, including more than two dozen clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District.
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