DA: 12 MS-13 members arrested in Queens plotted murders, burglary

QUEENS, New York City (WABC) -- A dozen reputed members of the violent MS-13 street gang were arrested in a Queens bust and charged with variety of offenses including conspiracy to commit murder.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced the indictments of 12 alleged MS-13 members who are accused of plotting to kill rival gang members and planning the execution of a man who left the gang.

"This was a long-term investigation that not only thwarted a plot to kill an individual -- a man trying to remove himself from this vicious street gang -- but also resulted in taking would-be killers off our neighborhood streets," Brown said. "Gang violence, intimidation and outright ruthless brutality will not be tolerated."

Brown identified one of the main suspects as 35-year-old Jorge "Terrible" Andrade, who is named in two of the indictments. The defendants range in age from 20 to 35 and are alleged to have conspired to kill multiple people. Additionally, 21-year-old Josue "Colocho" Levia, 20-year-old Angel "Chamuco" Romero, and 26-year-old Ramiro "Caramalo" Gutierrez, are charged with plotting a home invasion in the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood of Queens where they believed $80,000 could be taken.

The investigation was spearheaded by the NYPD's Queens South Gang Squad, along with with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Queens District Attorney's Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau.

According to the first indictment, Andrade and six others plotted to avenge the shooting and wounding of two reputed MS-13 members.

On June 23, 2018, two men were fired on outside a bar on Sutphin Boulevard, and an alleged rival gang member was apprehended for the shooting. Soon after that incident, Andrade and other reputed members of MS-13 were allegedly heard on wiretaps planning a hit to retaliate.

The gang members actually conducted their own surveillance of targets, accessed firearms and discussed locations for the hit, including the Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Queens, authorities said.

In August 2018, Andrade allegedly took photos of a potential target's car and revealed his intention to other gang members to kill the rival by bashing him in the head with a baseball bat.

Aaccording to the charges, on August 31, 2018, a rival gang member was stabbed near the Long Island Railroad Station at 94th Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard. After the stabbing, officers responded to a deli several blocks away and observed defendants Dani Cruz and Maxwell Martinez, who both had blood on their clothing and sneakers.

DNA testing allegedly revealed that the blood on their clothes and shoes belonged to the river gang member who had been stabbed. Video surveillance before the stabbing is alleged to show Angel Romero chasing the victim to the location, where he was ultimately attacked. Cruz and Maxwell were charged with attempted murder in October 2018.

According to the second indictment, when Andrade and other members of the MS-13 gang learned that one of their own had blacked out his distinctive MS-13 tattoo and had disassociated himself with the gang, they plotted to kill him.

Again, before striking, the gang members allegedly conducted extensive surveillance on the former member and reported back to higher-ups in the gang. Through wiretaps, investigators overheard defendant Levia allegedly discussing retrieving weapons for the hit and, when the time and location were revealed, law enforcement raced to the scene and possibly preventing a murder. Police executed a court-authorized search warrant and recovered a loaded .357 revolver and a .32 caliber firearm. Police also allegedly found cocaine and marijuana at the 118th Street location.

Furthermore, according to the charges, defendants Gutierrez, Levia and Romero conspired to burglarize a home in the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood of Queens. On February 18 and 19, the three defendants discussed their plans to steal $80,000 in cash believed to be in the home. Police overheard the discussions and thwarted the home invasion.

Additional arrests made in regards to this investigation include two accused MS-13 gang members who were taken into custody in regards to a metal pipe attack on two individuals on September 1, 2018. Defendant Romero and co-defendant Steven Rivas, 24, are alleged to have beaten the two victims with a pipe and are currently charged in a criminal complaint with assault.

Police executed a court-authorized search warrant on the residence of 27-year-old Jorge Rivera on 88th Avenue in Jamaica and and allegedly recovered 28 bags of cocaine and a fake pistol. Rivera is also charged in the indictment for conspiring to kill a rival gang member. Rivera's father, Eusebio Rivera, was also arrested on weapons charges.

During the execution of a court-authorized search warrant at Gutierrez's 162nd Street residence, police allegedly recovered nine bags of marijuana, grinders containing marijuana, approximately 100 glassine envelopes, a scale, a glass pipe containing cocaine and cannabis oil.

Officers executed a second court-authorized search warrant at Andrade's 94th Avenue residence and allegedly recovered three glass pipes containing marijuana, a scale with marijuana on it and bags containing cocaine. Police also allegedly found .22 caliber ammunition, .38 caliber cartridges, .9mm cartridges and .380 caliber bullets in the his bedroom.

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