Five MS-13 gang members charged in Elizabeth 'initiation killing,' prosecutor says
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Tom Haydon | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com By Tom Haydon | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on October 28, 2014 at 2:00 PM, updated October 28, 2014 at 3:36 PM
ELIZABETH undefined German Lisandro Benites Moreno came to New Jersey earlier this year specifically to recruit people to establish a new chapter of the MS-13 street gang, authorities said today.
On May 19, Moreno and two other out-of-state gang members accompanied two Elizabeth teenagers as they tracked an 18-year-old member of a rival gang to a backyard and fatally shot him as an initiation into MS-13, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said today.
Both Elizabeth teenagers are 17, Park said. She said one of the teenagers shot the victim, Jonathan Landaverde, while the second juvenile stood by to verify that the murder was committed. Landaverde was a member of the 18th Street Gang, Park said.
After a five month investigation by several agencies, Moreno, considered high-ranking with regional influence, was arrested along with two other out-of-state gang members and the two Elizabeth suspects. One of the Elizabeth juveniles was arrested in Texas, where Moreno had previously resided.
Moreno, 21, also known as “Raro,” and two other suspects, Carlos “Padrino” Amaya, 19, and Luis “Perverso” Alfaro, 26, have each been charged with murder and gang criminality, both first-degree crimes, and recruitment for a criminal street gang and weapons offenses, both second-degree crimes.
Juvenile complaints, including many of the same allegations, have been filed against both Elizabeth teenagers. They are being held at detention centers in Texas.
Landaverde was shot twice in the head in a rear yard on the 600 block of South Park Street. He was taken to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead.
“This was a brazen, cold and calculated crime we believe was committed for multiple purposes, to send a message to rival gangs, to initiate a new member and to eliminate a rival,” Park said. "While this does not eradicate this gang, it curbs what easily could have been an increase in their power,” she said of the five arrests.
Moreno is being held at the Hudson County jail on $3.5 million bail, while Alfaro and Amaya are being held at the Union County jail on $2.5 million and $2 million bail respectively.
Park could not recall another "initiation" murder in the county. However, she said MS-13 has been active in the county and nationwide. In September 2013, Park and federal authorities announced sweeping arrests of the MS-13 gang in Plainfield.
Park lauded the efforts of the Elizabeth Police Department, and county Homicide Task Force and its supervisor, Michael Henn. She also extended thanks to the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, the Houston Police Department and the Harris County [Texas] Sheriff’s Office.
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