Photo: MS-13 Gang in New York
Earlier today, La Mara Salvatrucha (“MS-13”) member Rene Mendez Mejia, also known as “Zorro,” pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death through use of a firearm in connection with the February 5, 2010, execution-style murders of Vanessa Argueta, a 19-yearold woman, and her two-year-old son, Diego Torres, in Central Islip, New York.1 When sentenced by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco on October 21, 2011, Mejia faces a maximum term of life imprisonment. In addition, nine of Mejia’s MS-13 co-defendants have pleaded guilty to racketeering offenses over the last several days.
The plea proceedings were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, Thomas C. Krumpter, Acting Commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department, and Richard Dormer, Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department.
As detailed in previously-filed court documents and Mejia’s plea allocution, the bodies of Argueta and Torres were found in a secluded wooded area; Argueta had been shot in the head and chest, and Torres had been shot twice in the head. Mejia’s fellow MS-13 gang members have also pleaded to the following charges.
“This young mother and her child lost their lives to senseless gang violence. Street gangs, and their associated wanton violence, have no place in our communities,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We will utilize all available resources to eliminate them and put an end to these senseless and brutal crimes.”