Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Organized Crime: MS-13 Member,“Joker” Sentenced to 35 Years’ Imprisonment for Murder

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Edwin Henriquez, also known as “Joker,” a member of the La Mara Salvatrucha (“MS-13”) street gang on Long Island, was sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment for the September 19, 2004, murder of 16-year-old fellow MS-13 member Olivia Melendez Mendoza (“Melendez”) in Old Westbury, New York. The sentence was imposed pursuant to Henriquez’s November 3, 2010, guilty plea. The proceeding was held before Senior United States District Judge Leonard D. Wexler at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

The sentence was 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, and James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York Field Office.

According to his plea allocution and documents previously filed in the case, Henriquez and other Long Island MS-13 members decided to kill Melendez because they believed that she was not abiding by the gang’s rules. Pursuant to their plan, Henriquez lured Melendez to a wooded area in Old Westbury where he shot her once in the back of the head. On April 12, 2011, Judge Wexler sentenced MS-13 member Jose Recinos, also known as “Psycho” and “Little Psycho,” to 20 years' imprisonment for aiding and abetting Henriquez in the murder.

“This sentence makes clear that gang members will pay a heavy price for such cold, calculated acts of violence,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Eliminating gang violence continues to be a priority of this Office and the Justice Department.” Ms. Lynch praised the work of the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force,1 which investigated the case. FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Fedarcyk stated, “Gangs resort to violence for a variety of reasons, not one of them morally defensible. In this case, as he admitted, Henriquez cold-bloodedly executed a young woman for violating MS-13 rules. For violating the rule of law, he will spend decades in prison.”

“This sentencing sends a clear message to gang members: we will deal strongly with those who ignore our laws and place our neighborhoods at risk,” said ICE/HSI Special Agent-in- Charge Hayes. “Gang violence and all of its accompanying destructive conduct will not be tolerated.”

The MS-13 is a violent international street gang comprised primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. With several chapters, which members refer to as “cliques,” MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York has obtained convictions against more than 120 MS-13 members, including ten clique leaders, for felony offenses, including racketeering, murder, assault, firearm possession, and narcotics trafficking.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard P. Donoghue, James McGovern, Raymond Tierney, and John Durham.

The Defendant:

EDWIN HENRIQUEZ, also known as “Joker” Age: 26

1 The FBI Long Island Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement officers from the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), New York State Police, Nassau County Police Department, Suffolk County Police Department, Hempstead Village Police Department, the Nassau County Department of Corrections, and the Suffolk County Department of Corrections.