It was a a horrible trap that cost the lives of four young men, as their murders were carried out gruesomely.
Prosecutors said in a recent case that four young Hispanic men who found slaughtered in a Long Island Park last April were enticed there to the site by two female subordinates of the MS-13 street gang, who were hunting for ‘rivals and perceived enemies’.
Once the group of young men made it there, the youths – some still in high school – were encircled by more than a dozen gang members who rushed them with and attacked with machetes, knives and wooden clubs ‘in a horrific frenzy of violence,’ according to the court documents that described the event.
A fifth young man who had attended to the victims at the park was the lucky one, and ran for his life and escaped.
Prosecutors last week were quick to charge four people in the slayings but have been very hush-hush on the details of the case. Three of the suspects were named in court papers opened Monday as Alexis Hernandez, Santis Leonel Ortiz-Flores and Omar Antonio Villalta. A fourth suspect’s identity had been blacked out. The U.S. Attorney’s office would not reveal whether that person was with the other three, or if he or she was actually on the run.
The April massacre in Central Islip was part of a string of Long Island killings blamed on MS-13, a deadly gang with origins in Central America. The deaths have attracted international attention and led to Congressional hearings, tweets from the White House and a visit to Long Island from the U.S. attorney general.
In a letter to the court, obtained by Newsday, federal prosecutors said the four victims found dead in April, plus the person who escaped, ‘were marked for death merely because they were suspected of disrespecting the MS-13 and being rival gang members.’
The two female gang associates had been instructed to get the victims to a community park, prosecutors wrote.
‘When the females got to the park, they led the five individuals to a wooded area … and sent a text message of their location to several of the MS-13 members,’ the memorandum said.
The victims killed in the ensuing attack included Justin Llivicura, 16, of East Patchogue; Jorge Tigre, 18, of Bellport; Michael Lopez Banegas, 20, of Brentwood; and Jefferson Villalobos, 18, of Pompano Beach, Florida, who was on Long Island visiting his cousin Banegas at the time.
The victims’ families have come out, and to their knowledge denied that any of the young men were involved in gangs.
The three suspects pointed out in the killings are now charged with racketeering, conspiracy to murder rival gang members and four counts of murder. Attorneys for Ortiz-Flores and Hernandez refused to comment; the name of Villalta’s attorney has not been made available.
MS-13, which is also known by Mara Salvatrucha, is thought to have been based and founded as a neighborhood street gang in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s by immigrants fleeing a civil war in El Salvador. The gang is now a leading international criminal enterprise, with tens of thousands of members in several Central American countries and also all 50 states of America.
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