They are being described as “remorseless to the end”.
As five Trinitarios gang members were sentenced to life in prison for the brutal machete murder of an innocent kid, they flashed gun signs with their cuffed hands to the media.
They were convicted in the slaughter of Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman in what was described as being a case of mistaken identity in the Bronx.
Judge Robert Neary handed down each of the sentences separately.
First, he condemned 25-year-old Jonaiki Martinez Estrella to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.
He’s the one who gave the fatal blow to Guzman’s neck.
Then came sentences of 25-years to life for his co-defendants, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, 25, Jose Muniz, 23 and Elvin Garcia, 25.
The final gang member was 19-year-old Manuel Rivera. He’s the one who dragged and knifed the innocent teen in June of 2018. Because of his age, he was given a lesser sentence of 23 years to life.
It took more than a year for the sentences to be handed down after the slaughter of the 15-year-old kid, who was hacked to death with machetes and knives on the corner of East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue on June 20, 2018.
Throughout the hearing, Estrella and Muniz laughed and made gun gestures towards photographers in the courtroom.
Junior’s mother and father shared crushing victim impact statements at the hearing.
“They killed an innocent child,” Leandra Feliz, the mother said. “Of all these men, not a single one of them said, ‘No, no, don’t do it.’ That night, there were two deaths, Junior and I, who was left dead inside.”
Their son was a young Police Explorer who wanted to help.
“As a young boy, my son dreamed of becoming a detective, so he could protect this city… Please make sure my son’s dreams come true. These killers should never be able to step out of a jail cell, so they know the moment they killed my son, they took their own lives as well,” she continued.
Junior’s father, Lisandro Guzman, opened his heart as well.
He told the courtroom that he now struggles to sleep. He dreads every weekend because they’re a constant reminder his beloved son is no longer around.
“I struggle daily to find meaning in my life,” he said. “I am no longer the person I once was. It is impossible to find purpose in life.”
He said the pain they inflicted knows no bounds.
“You will never have the ability to understand the pain that you caused. I will never forgive you. You deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
He prays they never leave prison.
“My hope is that you will never have a chance to hurt another child in the way you hurt mine,” the bereaved father said. “My hope is that another family will never have to live with the pain of losing a child, the pain that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.”
One of the gang bangers mothers, Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, got up and started screaming after the judge handed down her son’s lengthy term.
“He is my son! He did not kill Junior! He did not kill Junior!”.
The mother of the criminal then out of the courtroom.
The jury handed down convictions for the five Trinitarios gang members on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, second-degree conspiracy and second-degree gang assault, in June. The verdict came less than a week before the anniversary of the murder.
It was all captured on surveillance camera. Footage showed the moment Junior ran into the bodega, chased by two hooded men shortly before midnight, begging the cashier for help.
You could then see one of the men signal to a group of five other criminals, who were gathered on a nearby street corner.
Then the group dragged the 15-year-old out of the store. It was captured on camera as Junior tried desperately to get out of their grasp, holding on the corner of the shop’s door frame before being pulled out into the street
Then it turned bloody.
The group started the attack, using a number of knives and a machete, stabbing him over and over again as he lay on the floor trying to dodge the blows.
According to prosecutors, the killers later found out Junior wasn’t who they thought he was.
It was a tragic case of mistaken identity, with his killers wrongly believing him to be a member of a rival gang.
During the trial in June, Trinitarios gang member Michael Sosa Reyes turned and cooperated with the prosecution. He told the court that murderer Estrella callously bragged that his victim was ‘not going to eat for a very long time because I hit him in the neck’ as the killers ran.
But it turns out Estrella did more than just hit Guzman in the neck.
He used a four-and-a-half inch knife to slice the defenseless 15-year-old’s jugular vein, which caused him to bleed to death.
Reyes went on to say ringleader Diego Suero ordered his disciples from the ‘Bad Boys’ crew to inflict ‘any kind of damage’ on rival gang members that fateful evening.
He said the gang gathered inside Suero’s apartment, which was only a block away from the bodega on East 183rd Street.
‘Go after Sunset, you know what you have to do,’ Suero said to his crew.
According to Reyes, that meant:
“If you have a gun, shoot it, if you a have a knife, you stab, if you have a machete, you use it.”
It was only minutes after that when the gang members spotted aspiring NYPD detective Junior walking the streets. They thought he was a notorious member of the rival Sunset Crew.
They followed him in cars, then hunted down the terrified teen on foot.
Reyes told the jury in June about how he chased Junior inside the bodega, falsely telling the shopkeeper the boy had ‘done something’ to his grandmother, and needed to be dealt with.
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But Reyes claims he couldn’t go through with Suero’s order after looking Junior in the eyes and seeing just how petrified he was.
“At the moment I saw his face, my eyes changed. I saw he was scared, and he reminded me of a person that I had seen before,” Reyes said.
But he didn’t do anything to stop his fellow gang members, instead watching as they dragged Junior out of the shop by his ankles, and savagely hacked away at him with knives and a machete right on the street.
“He was hiding … [screaming] ‘No! No! No!” said Reyes.
He talked about the final moments.
“He was scared. When they dragged him out, he’s laying down fighting for his life. I saw [the defendants] pulling him, grabbing him…attacking him with a machete.”
Media outlets reported more on what followed:
“Two men, believed to be the ring leaders of the Los Sures gang attack that Guzman, as well as organizers of several other gruesome slashings, were indicted at the State Supreme Court on Thursday after Richard Ramirez Perez told fellow defendant Diego Suero Lorenzo in one message: ‘Encryption is what maintains this app that the government cannot see anything…So we good for now.’”
According to reporting media outlets, ten men were arrested on Wednesday and five remained at large until Thursday when they were finally caught.
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit and the NYPD’s Bronx Gang Squad were in charge of the case, which began partially by the June 20, 2018 murder of Guzman-Feliz which five men were convicted of this June.
According to police, the duo used the Facebook owned service to stay in contact with more than 100 Los Sures members. That’s a subset of the Trinitario gang which then worked to set ‘missions’ for fellow gang members to carry out attacks on members of the Washington Heights-based F.E.B subset, which they believed was ‘illegitimate’.
According to the indictment, two incidents took place on October 19, 2017.
In one of them, a group of approximately 20 men, including five of the new defendants, gathered in Fort Tryon Park before chasing the first victim into a bodega on the corner of West 192nd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
Court documents show that the alleged gang members were holding a bat, knives, and a machete, and the victim hid behind the deli counter before they chased him outside and tried to attack him. He escaped with only minor injuries.
Not long after, the group attacked a second man, repeatedly stabbing him and striking him with the bat and machete, according to the indictment.
That victim was attacked on Audubon Avenue between West 192nd and West 193rd Streets, which was only a block away from the first incident.
Police said he suffered three chop wounds to the head, a skull fracture, stab wounds, collapsed lungs, and a severed tendon in his wrist.
There’s more. The gang members were also charged in relation to a November 6, 2017 incident.
In that one, another group of men, including six of the new defendants, gathered in the same park before attacking two men near Broadway and Dongan Place.
Police said they had a gun, knives, batons, and a lock, and that one of the victims was stabbed repeatedly and the other was slashed from the back of his neck to the middle of his cheek.
Then there was a fifth attack related to the new indictments. This one was the stabbing at gunpoint of a man on the corner of 192nd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
According to court documents, after being knifed in the stomach, the attackers hit him in the head with the lock and chased him into a Kennedy Fried Chicken Store.
‘These Trinitario members used encrypted messages to strategize, Fort Tryon Park as their meeting place, and Upper Manhattan as their hunting ground,’ said District Attorney Cyrus Roberts Vance Jr. said.
He was talking about the gang, which mainly recruits people from the Dominican Republic.
‘They instilled fear in communities across Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, chasing their victims into bodegas and restaurants and brutally attacking them with knives, batons, and machetes.
He said the battle continues.
“Alongside our partners in the NYPD, we are committed to protecting our neighbors in Washington Heights and Inwood, and will do everything in our power to stop the violence that continues to harm those communities, even as crime continues to fall across Manhattan.”
According to court documents, Perez – aka ‘Stackz’ and ‘Menol de Robbinnn,’ as well as Lorenzo aka ‘El Menor’ were among those charged on 11 counts including Conspiracy in the Third and Fourth Degrees, Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the First and Second Degrees, and Gang Assault in the First Degree.
Back to the case of the murdered teen… we’ve learned that former gang members had testified against Lorenzo.
Police say Elvin Garcia is connected to the case, but say he was already in custody due to being convicted of Guzman-Feliz’s murder.
Raimy Carrasco, 19, Jery Peguero, 23, Oliver Fernandez, 25, Christopher Acosta,20, and Jorge Marques-Neto, 23, were on the run on Wednesday but were the last of the 15 to be taken in before the indictments.
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