HEMPSTEAD, Long Island – A fourth member of the MS-13 gang involved in the murder of 19-year-old Julio Cesar Gonzales-Espantzay in March.
Antonio Cullal, 23, was arrested for his alleged connection to the homicide and was charged with 2nd degree murder.
Cullal is allegedly part of the group of MS-13 members who lured Gonzales-Espantzay into a car with the promise of marijuana and sex and fatally attacked him with knives and machetes, police said.
Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Nassau homicide squad, said Gonzales-Espantzay was not a gang member. “Commonly they pick victims to move up in stature in MS-13,” Fitzpatrick said. “You have to show your loyalty.”
Carlos Portillo, 22, and Kevin Granados-Coreas, 19, were arrested in relation to the murder back in August.
28-year-old Lauren Christina Campos was also arrested in September for her alleged connection to the homicide.
The gang has been blamed for nearly 20 deaths in the suburbs east of New York City within 20 months, Nassau County police and prosecutors said.
The killings, many of which have involved teenagers, have caught the attention of both President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, both of whom have visited Long Island in recent months to promise federal action to stem the violence.
MS-13, or the Mara Salvatrucha, is believed by federal prosecutors to have thousands of members across the U.S., primarily immigrants from Central America. It has a stronghold in Los Angeles, where it emerged in the 1980s as a neighborhood street gang, but also has wreaked violence in cities and suburbs across the United States.
Associated Press contributed to this report.