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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York's office
Marcelo Esquivel (back row, center) was charged in the 2012 killing of Daniel Licona- Gonzalez in July 2020.

A former MS-13 gang leader was charged in federal court for ordering the assassination of a rival gang member in Jamaica in 2012, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York announced on Friday.

Marcelo Esquivel, 31, was charged with murder in-aid-of racketeering and causing death through the use a firearm in connection with the shooting of Daniel Licona-Gonzalez on July 2, 2012. If convicted, Esquivel faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison and is eligible for the death penalty.

“As alleged, Esquivel ordered the murder of another human being in furtherance of the vicious code of the MS-13 gang, and the life of an 18-year-old man was ended by co- conspirators carrying out the defendant’s death wish,” said Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “The Eastern District will continue to do everything possible to crush the MS-13 and Esquivel’s arrest sends a powerful message that the passage of time will not deter this Office and our law enforcement partners from investigating, prosecuting and holding accountable anyone who commits violent crimes on behalf of the gang.”

On July 2, 2012, Esquivel allegedly gave two MS-13 gang members a gun and ordered them to find a member of the rival gang, the Latin Kings, and murder them, according to the charges.

Following Esquivel’s orders, the two gang members rode a bicycle to Lowe Court and 149th Street in Jamaica, where they saw a group of men they believed to Latin Kings, according to the the authorities. Licona-Gonzalez, who was standing in the group, was shot in the head and died the next day in the hospital, Donoghue said.

According to the government, the U.S. Attorney has secured the testimony of eyewitnesses tying Esquivel to the murder, surveillance footage of the moments before the murder and photos and videos that establish Equivel’s membership of MS-13.

Since 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s office claims to have convicted dozens of MS-13 gang members in connection to more than 45 murders.

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