March 25, 2019
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-2906
Six MS-13 gang members indicted for allegedly conspiring to commit murder
HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. - Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan of the New York Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration; Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini; Special Agent in Charge of the New York office of Homeland Security Investigations Angel M. Melendez; and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced the indictment of six alleged MS-13 gang members in connection with conspiracies to commit two separate murders in Suffolk County.
“The six defendants’ alleged crimes demonstrate the underbelly of MS-13 gang’s operations by using violence, retaliation and threats,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Donovan. “DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to keeping our neighborhoods safe from drug trafficking and the associated violence.”
“These were not empty threats; we’ve seen MS-13 gang members commit murders before of rival gang members and of their own associates who are accused of cooperating with law enforcement,” District Attorney Sini said. “Which is why we do not, and cannot, take the threat of MS-13 lightly. Had it not been for the excellent investigation and partnership of our office, the DEA, HSI and the Suffolk County Police Department, MS-13 would have committed these two murders right here in Suffolk County.”
“There is no line that MS-13 will not cross, evidenced by their alleged conspiracy to kill even one of their own gang members,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Melendez. “HSI remains committed to stepping up its efforts to thwart MS-13 violence in Long Island. By working collaboratively with DEA, SCPD and the Suffolk County District Attorney, we ensured that this alleged conspiracy to commit murder was not accomplished.”
“The Suffolk County Police Department remains committed to maintaining the successful strategies we have in place to decrease and prevent gang violence,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Hart said. “We will continue to collaborate with law enforcement agencies to collect and share intelligence about gangs. We will not relent until we dismantle this violent street gang.”
Kevin Zuniga, a/k/a “Sharky,” 20, of Brentwood, is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, an E felony.
Jose J. Portillo, a/k/a “Soldado,” 28, of Maryland, previously of Central Islip, is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, an E felony.
Kevin Mejia Sandoval, a/k/a “Abuelo,” age 31, of Maryland, is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, an E felony.
Gerver A. Chinchilla Perez, a/k/a “Antonio,” 22, of Brentwood, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.
Emerson H. E., a/k/a “Wason,” 17, of Brentwood, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.
Rafael H. E., a/k/a “Poison,” 17, of Brentwood, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.
The defendants are all identified by law enforcement as members of the Leeward clique of the MS-13 gang. Portillo, Zuniga and Mejia Sandoval are alleged “homeboys” in the clique who, as leaders here in the United States, receive orders from MS-13 gang leaders in El Salvador and direct local members to carry out the gang’s missions.
An investigation that began in the summer of 2018 revealed evidence that Zuniga, Portillo and Mejia Sandoval allegedly conspired to murder a fellow member of MS-13 who they believed was cooperating with law enforcement.
The investigation also revealed evidence of a second alleged conspiracy by Zuniga, Portillo and Mejia Sandoval, that included fellow gang members Chinchilla Perez, H. E. a/k/a “Wason,” , and H. E., a/k/a “Poison,” to commit the murder of a rival gang member from the 18th Street gang.
Mejia Sandoval is alleged to have received permission for the clique to commit both murders from MS-13 leaders in El Salvador.
All six defendants are also charged with Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree in connection with an alleged conspiracy to illegally purchase a loaded firearm for the clique to use to commit the murders.
“They would have been successful in obtaining that weapon, and likely successful in carrying out these murders, had it not been for the hardworking men and women of law enforcement, particularly the DEA, HSI and the Suffolk County Police Department,” District Attorney Sini said.
Zuniga and H. E. a/k/a “Wason,” were arrested as part of HSI’s Operation Matador on May 30, 2017, and were released on bond on Aug. 1, 2017, and May 4, 2018, respectively. Mejia Sandoval was previously deported twice.
Zuniga and Chinchilla Perez were arraigned on the indictment on Feb. 1 by Suffolk County Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. Bail was set for each defendant at $125,000 cash or $250,000 bond.
H. E. a/k/a “Wason,” and H. E. a/k/a “Poison,” were arraigned on the indictment on Feb. 4 by Judge Camacho. Bail was set for each defendant at $200,000 cash or $400,000 bond.
Portillo was extradited from Maryland on Feb. 14 and arraigned on Feb. 15. Bail was set for Portillo at $200,000 cash or $400,000 bond
Mejia Sandoval was extradited from Maryland on March 22 and was arraigned today on the indictment. Bail was set for Mejia Sandoval at $500,000 cash or $1 million bond.
If convicted of the top count, the defendants face a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Christiana McSloy, Senior Investigative Counsel to the District Attorney, and Assistant District Attorney Melissa Bliss of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau.