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Long Island MS-13 gang member pleads guilty to murdering 15-year-old boy

September 25, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Thursday, in Eastern District Federal Court in Central Islip, Eduardo Portillo, also known as “Firuli” and “Tito,” a member of MS-13, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges relating to his participation in the murder of 15-year-old Javier Castillo, and to conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana.  

The guilty plea was entered before United States Circuit Judge Joseph F. Bianco, EDNY.  

Portillo and his fellow MS-13 members targeted Castillo because he was believed to be a member of the 18th Street gang, one of MS-13’s principal rivals.  On Oct. 10, 2016, Portillo and other Brentwood-based members of the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside clique of the MS-13 convinced Castillo, who lived in Central Islip, to go with them to Freeport — approximately 30 miles away — to smoke marijuana.  

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U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco, EDNY. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

They lured Castillo to an isolated marsh area in Cow Meadow Park in Freeport, where they attacked him, taking turns hacking the victim with a machete.  Afterwards, the MS-13 members dug a hole and buried Castillo’s body, which was not recovered until one year later, in October 2017.

Portillo also pleaded guilty to participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy, admitting that between April 2016 and March 2017, he and other members of the Sailors clique conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana in the Brentwood area to raise money for the MS-13 and fund its operations.

Portillo was arrested in Morazán, El Salvador on Feb. 23, 2019 and extradited to the United States on Nov. 6, 2020. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Justice Dept.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge, FBI; New York Field Office; and Stuart Cameron, acting commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), announced the guilty plea.

“With today’s guilty plea, the defendant, an MS-13 gang member, admits to an utterly depraved and heinous crime, of taking turns with a machete to hack a teenage boy to death, simply because he believed the boy belonged to a rival gang,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis.  “This Office and its law enforcement partners in New York and El Salvador are committed to stopping the violence of MS-13 gang members and bringing an end to their reign of brutality and murder in this district.”

“Eduardo Portillo violently participated in taking the life of another teen as well as fed the drug epidemic plaguing our community,” stated SCPD Acting Commissioner Cameron.  “This guilty plea is another step in the fight against gang violence and drug addiction in our county..”  

Thursday’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, transnational criminal organization.  The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States, comprised primarily of immigrants from Central America.  

The government’s case is being handled by the Eastern District Prosecutor’s Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Paul G. Scotti, Justina L. Geraci, Megan E. Farrell, and John J. Durham are in charge of the prosecution.

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