Yesterday, an indictment was unsealed at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, charging Byron Lopez, aka Viruz, 23, an alleged gang member of the Jamaica Queens; a chapter of the violent street gang, MS-13, with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering; murder in aid of racketeering; obstruction of justice murder; and firearms offenses. Lopez was arrested last Thursday after an investigation by ICE, Homeland Security, ATF and the New York Police Department. The prosecution of this case by the New York U.S. Attorney’s Office is a another example of them targeting members of MS-13, comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras, to break the cycle of violence and unwanted lawlessness in neighborhoods throughout Queens and Long Island.
According to court documents, Lopez and other members of MS-13 Jamaica Queens, on Feb. 25, directed fellow gang member Sidney Valverde to travel to Long Island on the pretense that they needed him on gang business; little did he know he was the business, as they planned to kill him because they believed Valverde was providing information about the gang’s activities to federal law enforcement. Shortly after Valverde arrived in Long Island they shot him in the back of the head and left his body on Miller Place Beach in Suffolk County, where it was discovered by a beachcomber approximately two weeks later.
If convicted, Lopez, will face mandatory life imprisonment. Since 2003, more than 150 MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges, and 100 other MS-13 members have been convicted on federal felony charges. Since 2010 alone, New York Eastern District prosecutors have obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 20 murders, and have convicted more than 35 MS-13 members in connection with those murders.