Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Mario Aguilar-Lopez, a member of the Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside (Sailors) clique of the La Mara Salvatrucha street gang, also known as the MS-13, pleaded guilty to murder and assault charges relating to his participation in the January 30, 2017 murder of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla, whom he suspected of being a rival 18th Street gang member, and shooting of an innocent bystander, “Jane Doe.” The guilty plea was entered before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco. When sentenced, the defendant faces up to life imprisonment for the murder, 20 years for the assault and deportation from the United States.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Geraldine Hart, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), and Patrick J. Ryder, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), announced the guilty plea.
“Aguilar-Lopez committed a deliberate, cold-blooded broad daylight murder in the name of MS-13, shooting a suspected rival gang member from behind and seriously wounding an innocent bystander who was simply working her job,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The Eastern District of New York and our law enforcement partners will continue to relentlessly investigate and prosecute MS-13 and other gangs until our communities are rid of this menace.”
“Global criminal enterprises like MS-13 thrive by terrorizing communities with fears of violence, intimidation, and retribution,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “When Aguilar-Lopez decided to serve as judge, jury, and executioner in carrying out MS-13’s version of vigilante justice in killing a rival gang member, he also put the lives of innocent bystanders at risk. As today’s conviction demonstrates, the FBI’s Long Island Safe Streets Gang Task Force will continue to hold violent gangs and murderers fully accountable for their actions, and work to ensure safety and peace of mind for our citizens and communities.”
“This guilty plea will ensure that yet another violent member of MS-13 will be imprisoned for his senseless crimes,” stated SCPD Commissioner Hart. “The Suffolk County Police Department will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and combine resources to aggressively target gang members who have no regard for human life. I would like to thank the Eastern District of New York for their unwavering commitment to prosecute gang members and our partners at the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force as we work together to eradicate MS-13 in Suffolk County.”
“The guilty plea of defendant Aguilar-Lopez to charges of the murder of Esteban Alvardo-Bonilla and the shooting of another victim is a clear example of how law enforcement has been instrumental in removing MS-13 members from our streets and incarcerating them,” stated NCPD Commissioner Patrick Ryder. “Our residents and communities are safer due to all associated agencies working side by side to combat gang violence and I would like to congratulate all of the investigators who dedicated themselves to this case.”
According to prior court filings and statements made during today’s guilty plea, on the day of the murder, a member of the Sailors clique saw Alvarado-Bonilla inside El Campesino Deli in Central Islip. Believing that Alvarado-Bonilla was a rival 18th Street gang member, the Sailors decided to kill him. Aguilar-Lopez and two MS-13 associates drove to the deli. Aguilar-Lopez entered, approached Alvarado-Bonilla from behind and shot him multiple times, killing him. One of the bullets traveled through Alvarado-Bonilla’s head and hit a deli employee standing directly in front of him, seriously injuring her. Aguilar-Lopez and the other gang associates then fled the scene. The wounded store employee was taken to a local hospital for treatment and survived.
Today’s guilty plea is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent international criminal organization. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador and Honduras, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States, comprised primarily of immigrants from Central America. With numerous branches, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the largest and most violent street gang on Long Island. Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges for participating in murders, attempted murders and assaults. Since 2010, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 45 murders in this district, and has convicted dozens of MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI, SCPD, NCPD, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Suffolk County Probation, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Rockville Centre Police Department and the New York State Police.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys John J. Durham, Paul G. Scotti, Raymond A. Tierney, Justina L. Geraci and Michael T. Keilty are in charge of the prosecution.
MARIO AGUILAR-LOPEZ (also known as “Cuchumbo” and “Flexible”)
Brentwood, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-403 (S-6) (JFB)