MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced today that an MS-13 member was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison for his role in a December 2018 murder spree in Queens and Nassau.
Yonathan Sanchez, 24, a/k/a Turbo, pled guilty on March 13 before Judge Tammy Robbins to two counts of Murder in the Second Degree (an A-I felony).
“This defendant brutally murdered two young men as part of MS-13’s failed campaign for dominance,” DA Singas said. “Working together, law enforcement has decimated this gang on Long Island, and Sanchez will join his many fellow gang members spending decades to life behind bars.”
The case against co-defendants, Carlos Guerra, 20, and Elmer Gutierrez, 20, a/k/a Revolver, of Valley Stream, are pending. The cases against two juveniles, a 17-year old male (15 at the time of the crime) and a 14-year old female (13 at the time of the crime) are also pending. They were charged with Murder in the Second Degree for both incidents. One 17-year-old male (15 at the time of the crime) pled guilty to one count of Murder in the Second Degree and is expected to be sentenced to 8-1/2 years to life in prison.
DA Singas said that, according to the indictment, on December 15, 2018, 23-year old Far Rockaway resident Ian Cruz, a perceived enemy of MS-13, was lured to Bayswater Point State Park in Far Rockaway with the promise of drugs and sex. The victim met the female defendant and then walked to the park, while Sanchez, allegedly Guerra and a 15-year old male defendant hid in the park armed with knives. Sanchez emerged from the bushes and shot Cruz four times in the head with a .22 caliber revolver.
The defendants took Cruz’s belongings and fled to a Nameoke Street apartment where Sanchez and Guerra lived.
The defendants planned Cruz’s murder and photographs of Cruz allegedly disrespecting MS-13 were circulated among them.
Cruz was found by a park-goer the following day, in his underwear and on top of a blanket.
On the evening of December 17, 2018, victim Harold Sermeno, 17, of Far Rockaway, was lured to the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence. The victim and the female defendant arrived at a park on the property and began to drink and smoke at a picnic table. At that point, the five other defendants, armed with a gun and knives, waited in strategic areas in the park. Sanchez then emerged and shot Sermeno four times in the head and once in the chest with a .22 revolver. Gutierrez allegedly sliced the victim’s neck with a machete.
The six defendants then allegedly fled to the same apartment in Far Rockaway.
Sermeno was found the following morning by a person walking a dog.
Police officers recovered the machete that was allegedly used in the murder of Sermeno and a .22 caliber revolver that was allegedly used in both murders at the Nameoke apartment.
Sanchez, Guerra, Gutierrez and two juveniles were arrested on December 20, 2018 in Far Rockaway by members of the NYPD. The sixth defendant, a juvenile, was arrested on December 28, 2018, by members of the NYPD and NCPD.
The District Attorney thanks the New York Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Queens County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for their assistance in this case.
Senior Litigation Counsel Stefanie Palma of DA Singas’ Major Offense Bureau is prosecuting this case. Sanchez is represented by Michael Horn, Esq. Guerra is represented by Jeff Groder, Esq. and Gutierrez is represented by Greg Madey, Esq.
The charges against the remaining defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.