The alleged leader of MS-13 operations on the East Coast was extradited from a Maryland jail to Nassau County, where he will answer to murder and drug trafficking charges related to the gang's activities on Long Island.
Authorities say 35-year-old Miguel Angel Corea Diaz was included as one of 17 defendants previously cited in a 21-count Nassau County indictment that prompted authorities to do a local gang sweep on January 11.
Diaz has been held in Prince George's County Detention Center on local felony drug charges, with the Nassau County arrest warrant pending against him. He has previously been referred to as "the alleged kingpin of MS-13 for the entire Eastern region of the United States."
Corea Diaz, also known as Reaper, was arraigned before Acting Supreme Court Justice Patricia Harrington on three counts of operating as a major trafficker and five counts of second-degree conspiracy. He is due back in court on May 10 and faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
"This defendant, known as Reaper, allegedly ordered murders and trafficked large amounts of poisonous heroin up and down the eastern seaboard," Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. "What started as a narcotics investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration quickly expanded in scope and geography to include murder and violence committed by alleged MS-13 members throughout the United States and El Salvador."
Singas said the seven-month investigation included police departments in New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Texas, where many of the arrests were made. It reportedly began as a narcotics trafficking investigation and went worldwide, and officials say gang members all over the world were taken down, including in places like Cuba, Korea, France and Egypt
"This massive multi-agency investigation laid bare the global size, complexity, and brutality of MS-13, and these indictments strike a heavy blow to the gang's operations on Long Island," Singas said in January. "These alleged gang members have terrorized vulnerable immigrant communities, trafficked deadly heroin into our neighborhoods, and this coalition of more than 22 agencies nationwide will continue to be unrelenting in our efforts to dismantle MS-13."
Meanwhile, authorities are investigating at least two credible threats to execute police officers linked to the notorious gang. "MS13 wants to threaten a cop in this county, MS13 is gonna get an answer," said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
Ryder said it it is a fight cops will not back down from. It started with a credible threat picked up by the Hempstead Police Department Wednesday afternoon to assassinate men and women in uniform. MS13 said "Too many arrests. Time to take back the streets like we did in El Salvador." Officials say the threat was delivered to them by an informant.
"It will not be tolerated in this county against any of our first responders," said Ryder. "Whether it's law enforcement, our police medics, or our fire services. We will answer that threat, and we will answer it strongly."
Police say stemming from this threat, they have arrested several suspected gang members since Wednesday for other gang related activities. But then police learned of a second threat against cops. This individual, they say, has weapons and masks.
It all comes on the heels of the arrest of Corea Diaz. He and other indicted co-defendants allegedly trafficked large quantities of heroin on Long Island, in the Bronx, in Baltimore, Houston, Long Branch, and Jefferson County, Texas. He also allegedly directed several of the defendants to commit murders in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Prince George's County, Maryland. Those attempts were thwarted by law enforcement.
On September 26, 2017, Corea Diaz allegedly instructed co-defendant Ever Morales Lopez (AKA "Lenky") to meet Edgar Orellana Saravia (AKA "Chavi") in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The defendants were allegedly sent to do reconnaissance - including choosing a suitable location to commit the murder of a rival gang member and determining if cameras were nearby. The defendants allegedly discussed where to dispose the victim's body and how deep to dig the hole.
Some of the arrests were linked to the discoveries of three bodies over the course of just more than a week a few miles apart in Nassau County last fall.
The remains of 16-year-old Javier Castillo, of Central Islip, were found October 23 in Cow Meadow Park and Preserve in Freeport. Four days later, the body of 20-year-old Kerin Pineda, of Freeport, was found in the thick woods near the Freeport/Merrick Reservoir.
One arrest had been made in the death of 16-year-old Angel Soler, found in the woods on the Roosevelt/Baldwin border on October 19, but authorities stressed at the time that "a sensitive and ongoing investigation" was underway.
The indictment alleges that David Sosa Guevara (AKA "Risky") and Victor Lopez brutally murdered Soler on July 21, 2017, in Nassau County. Soler's body was mutilated, bearing injuries consistent with the use of a machete, and he suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
Authorities say the bust involved the prevention of at least three MS-13 gang killings, and that Nassau County alone has made 150 arrests in the past few months.
The charges include murder, conspiracy and drug trafficking, with each suspect facing 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
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