A leader of a violent international street gang, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), has been sentenced to 35 years in federal prison for murdering a fellow gang member in 2004.
In Sept. 2004, Wilver R. Lopez, also known as Conde, and co-conspirators had lured fellow gang member Genaro Venegas to a wooded area in Bethpage, New York and repeatedly stabbed and shot him to death.
Federal investigators believe the murder was an act of retribution as Venegas had provided police authorities with information relating to a murder committed by an MS-13 gang member in April 2004.
At the time of Venegas' murder, Lopez was the leader of the MS-13's Long Island Leeward Clique. Lopez's co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty to murder charges and are awaiting sentencing.
Lopez had pleaded guilty to the murder charge on August 10, 2010. The proceeding was held before Senior U.S. District Judge Leonard D. Wexler at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
Eliminating gang violence in our communities is one of our highest priorities, and we will continue to utilize all necessary resources in this effort, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch said.
The MS-13 gang is ethnically composed of Central Americans, comprising primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. It has several chapters, which members refer to as cliques across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Central America. The gang is active in urban and suburban areas, and on Long Island, it is the largest street gang.
The members of the gang are notorious for their use of violence and a subcultural moral code that predominantly consists of merciless revenge and cruel retributions. They can be identified by the tattoos that cover their body and also often their faces. They also have their own sign language.
The MS-13 gang caught the media attention recently when Ingmar Guandique, an El Salvador immigrant and an MS-13 gang member was tried and convicted for the murder of federal intern Chandra Levy in Washington D.C last month.
At the trial, the federal prosecutors acknowledged that they have no physical evidence or eyewitnesses in Levy's slaying and could not link Guandique to Levy's murder.
However, they established to the jury a crime pattern by saying Levy's death was similar to two other attacks Guandique had made on young women joggers in Rock Creek Park in the spring and summer of 2001. The remains of Levy, who went missing on May 1, 2001, was found in a wooded area of the park a year later.