Adalberto Ariel Guzman (a.k.a. “Gringo”) and MS-13 Co-Conspirators Executed 19-Year-Old Vanessa Argueta and Her 2-Year-Old Son Diego Torres
Today, following three weeks of trial, a federal jury in Central Islip, New York, returned a verdict convicting MS-13 street gang member Adalberto Ariel Guzman, also known as “Gringo,” on federal criminal charges, including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and firearms offenses, in connection with the execution-style murders of a mother and her 2-year-old son. The defendant is facing a sentence of life in prison as a result of his conviction. Sentencing is scheduled for January 9, 2014, before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco.
The conviction was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Thomas V. Dale, Commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department.
At trial, the government proved that the defendant Adalberto Ariel Guzman carried out the execution-style murders of Vanessa Argueta, a 19-year-old woman, and Diego Torres, her 2-year-old son, in Central Islip, New York, on February 5, 2010. The bodies of Argueta and Torres were found in a secluded wooded area in Central Islip. Argueta had been shot in the head and chest, and Torres had been shot twice in the head. The evidence introduced at trial established that Guzman fired the fatal shot to Torres’s head, and after committing the murders, he and two of his co-conspirators fled to El Salvador. Guzman was arrested on May 17, 2010, in Miami, Florida, when he attempted to return to the United States.
Today’s conviction is the third that the government has obtained in connection with the Argueta and Torres murders. Heriberto Martinez, also known as “Boxer,” was convicted in March 2013, following a six-week trial, and Rene Mendez Mejia, also known as “Zorro,” pled guilty to the murders in June 2011.
Guzman’s conviction is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent international street gang composed primarily of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. With numerous branches, or “cliques,” the MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island. Since 2002, more than 200 MS-13 members, including more than two dozen clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. More than 100 of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges. Since 2010 alone, this office has convicted more than 30 members of the MS-13 on charges relating to their participation in one or more murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI, Nassau County Police Department, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Suffolk County Probation, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Rockville Centre Police Department, and Suffolk County Police Department.
“Guzman and his co-conspirators shot a young mother and her toddler in cold blood. Her crime in their eyes—showing ‘disrespect’ to their vicious gang. Her child’s—simply being with her when the defendant and his cronies decided that she could no longer live. Few other acts illustrate so clearly the heartless nature of this criminal enterprise known as MS-13. Guzman will now be held to account for his allegiance to this band of killers,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to each of the law enforcement agencies for their assistance in this case.