By Mark Hallum
Four alleged members of a Jamaica-based gang have been indicted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn on charges of murdering an MS-13 gang member in Flushing back in February, the authorities said.
Officers from the 107th Precinct responded to a call that Oscar Antonio Blanco-Hernandez, 20, had been assaulted near 85-14 160th St. Feb. 2 and upon arrival discovered he was shot once in the head and once in the groin, according to police at the time.
Blanco-Hernandez has now been officially identified by prosecutors as an MS-13 member who was allegedly eliminated by a rival affiliation known as the 18th Street Gang.
“This indictment is another example of law enforcement working together to eliminate gang violence. The defendants in this case are accused of carrying out the merciless execution of a rival gang member,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Gang warfare in our city streets puts every man, woman and child in danger. We will not tolerate violent street gangs turning our neighborhoods into killing fields. My office will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to rid our communities of this kind of violence and brutality.”
Suspected Jamaica gang members Yanki Misael Cruz-Mateo, Yoni Alexander Sierra, Jose Jimenez Chacon and Saudi Levy Ramirez were all indicted April 30 on charges of murder and conspiracy, federal authorities said, but Cruz-Mateo also faces firearms offenses.
City, state and federal law enforcement officials joined forces to track the killer of Blanco-Hernandez in what was the third MS-13 related killing in Queens in the past year.
In May 2017, Fernando Gonzalez Chavez, 39, originally from El Salvador, was standing outside a Murray Hill deli on 162nd Street and Northern Boulevard when Roberto Abrego, 23, and Jose Alvarenga, 27, allegedly ambushed him in an attack later attributed to MS-13, according to the Queens DA.
Brown said Chavez’s assailants shot him in the chest, puncturing his lung, which resulted in his death.
Chavez’s murder came just weeks after the mid-May murder of Julio Vasquez, 16, who was found with at least two dozen stab wounds in an Oakland Gardens wetlands preserve — an attack police also determined to have gang ties.
Although the NYPD was hesitant to confirm the gang affiliation of Vasquez at the time, a brick post in front of the teen’s home was found tagged with MS-13 graffiti.
“The magnitude of violence exhibited in this case will not be tolerated,” NYPD Police Commissioner O’Neill said of the indictment of Blanco-Hernadez’s alleged killers.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the investigation into the death of Blanco-Hernandez was slow-going since identifying the man was difficult, but they were certain MS-13 played a factor.
“Do we think it might still be MS-13? Yes, we do,” Boyce said. “Now, we’re hampered by the fact that we didn’t know who he was for the first two days … We went to his dad’s house. We spoke to his dad. He explained what happened and we were able to get to some telephones, where he’s going through social media. That’s being analyzed right now … So, we’re a long way from determining which gang it was at this point but again the earmarks of it, there’s no question.”
MS-13 had held more ground in Queens until a law enforcement sweep saw eight members arrested as well as the 2013 imprisonment of the leader of their Flushing chapter, Hector Aleman Lemos. But the gang derived from an El Salvadorian band of guerilla fighters is now mostly present in Long Island.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall