MS-13 ‘Little Devil’ guilty on all counts in massacre

The Long Island woman dubbed MS-13’s “Little Devil” was convicted Monday of federal murder and racketeering charges for luring four young men into a deadly ambush at the hands of the notoriously vicious gang.

Linez “Diablita” Escobar, 22, was found guilty on all six charges after just 16 minutes of deliberations on Monday morning and jurors weighed the charges for about three hours Friday. She faces up to life in prison at her sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 14.

Escobar showed no emotion as the verdict was read in the courtroom, sitting stiff-shouldered and staring forward blankly.

Escobar was charged in federal court in Central Islip with helping orchestrate the brutal 2017 machete massacre.

“With today’s verdict, Escobar has been held responsible for the crucial role that she willingly played in orchestrating one of the most vicious and senseless mass murders in the district in memory,” Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

Leniz Escobar, aka Diablita or LIttle Devil, is seen in an undated mugshot entered into evidence Monday, March 21, 2022. Escobar, is charged with luring five young men into a wooded area adjacent to the Central Islip Recreational Center where more than a dozen MS-13 members armed with machetes, knives, an ax and other weapons lay in wait for the victims.  Credit: United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York
Linez “Diablita” Escobar, 22, was found guilty on all six charges.
SMoore-Glasgow

“The defendant showed utter disregard for human life by leading the victims into a killing field, to their slaughter, to enhance her stature with her fellow cold-blooded murderers within the MS-13 gang,” Peace said.

The victims, who believed they were meeting her to smoke marijuana in a local park, were caught in a trap and attacked by the savage gangsters in what federal prosecutors called “a horrific frenzy of violence.”

Prosecutors said during closing arguments Wednesday that Escobar, who was 17 at the time, convinced MS-13 members that the victims “mocked” them by posting pictures throwing gang signs on social media.

Victims of an MS-13 connected quadruple homicide in Central Islip Long Island.  From left;  Justin Llivicura, Jefferson Villalobos, Michael Lopez Banega, and Jorge Tigre.
Justin Llivicura, Jefferson Villalobos, Michael Lopez Banega, and Jorge Tigre were victims of the quadruple homicide.

Prosecutors relied on testimony from several gang members, including Escobar’s then-boyfriend, to make a case against her.

“You heard [gang member] David Gaitan-Rivera’s testimony, ”Assistant U.S. Attorney Justina Geraci told jurors. “He told you how one of the victims had reached for [Escobar] before he was killed and his blood had gotten all over her shirt.

“He told you how she licked the blood off her lips.”

EVIDENCE PHOTO of Leniz Escobar, aka
Leniz Escobar faces up to life in prison at her sentencing later this year.
Dennis A. Clark

Five young men were ambushed during the April 11, 2017 massacre, with four of them –Miguel Lopez, 20, Justin Llivicura, 16, and Jefferson Villalobos and Jose Tigre, both 18 – hacked to death and left in a pool of blood.

Their mangled bodies were found nearby the next day.

“This was by far one of the most horrific crime scenes we’ve ever handled,” Suffolk County Homicide Detective Jefffrey Bottari testified at the trial. “It will be etched in my memory, as it will be for everyone after this. It was unimaginable. “

Police set up a crime scene at a park in Central Islip, Long Island where four mutilated bodies of young men were found on April 13, 2017 in Central Islip, New York.
Police set up a crime scene at a park in Central Islip, Long Island, where four mutilated bodies of young men were found on April 13, 2017.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The fifth intended victim, Elmer Alexander Arteaga Ruiz, now 22, ran for his life and managed to get away.

He lived to testify against Escobar.

“They said, ‘Do not move. Whoever moves, dies, ‘”Ruiz told the jury. “I ran because the first words they said was that we were going to die, they were going to kill us, and they had weapons.”

Police set up a crime scene at a park in Central Islip, Long Island where four mutilated bodies of young men were found on April 13, 2017 in Central Islip, New York
Five young men were ambushed during the April 11, 2017, massacre.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Ruiz said he and his friends posted the photos using MS-13 hand signs – perceived as a sign of disrespect by the gang – because he thought it would attract girls and were “not thinking of the consequences.”

He said that “Diablita,” Escobar’s Snapchat handle, “fit her well.”

Prosecutors said Escobar later bragged to her MS-13 boyfriend over several phonecalls that she was “happy” she set up the massacre.

MS-13 gang associate Keyli Gomez
MS-13 gang associate Keyli Gomez testified against Leniz “Diablita” Escobar.
EDNY

In court, Escobar repeatedly smiled and joked with her defense team, telling one of her lawyers at the opening of the trial, “Big day.”

Her chilling mugshot shows her smirking while giving the camera a cold stare.

Defense attorney Jesse Siegel maintained that his client was at the scene of the massacre – but did not know that the victims would be attacked.

The area outside a Central Islip park where Leniz Escobar AKA “Little Devil” allegedly lured 5 teens to their death by the MS13 gang, one person Elmer Alexander Arteaga Ruiz escaped unharmed
Prosecutors said Leniz Escobar, who was 17 at the time, convinced MS-13 members that the victims “mocked” them by posting pictures throwing gang signs on social media.
Dennis A. Clark
The area inside a Central Islip park where Leniz Escobar AKA “Little Devil” allegedly lured 5 teens to their death by the MS13 gang, one person Elmer Alexander Arteaga Ruiz escaped unharmed
The fifth intended victim, Elmer Alexander Arteaga Ruiz, now 22, ran for his life and managed to get away.
Dennis A. Clark

“I would say that we’m disappointed, but we do appreciate the time and effort put in by the jury,” he said after the verdict Monday.

“The first thing we’re going to have to handle is sentencing, which is scheduled for September, and there’s a lot of work to be done,” Siegel said. “So, when it’s time to sentence Leniz, Judge [Joseph] Bianco has a good idea who she is. People should not be defined solely for the worst thing they ever do. ”

He said Escobar “had an extraordinarily difficult life.”

During the trial, Siegel also dismissed the testimony of Escobar’s boyfriend, Sergio Vladimir Segovia Pineda, and other MS-13 gangsters who took the stand.

“The jury should not rely on the witnesses that the government put forward, meaning these cooperating witnesses who are all extremely bad people who are testifying pursuant to cooperation agreements,” he said as he left the courthouse last week.

Friends and family of Leniz Escobar, aka
Friends and family of Leniz Escobar leave federal court in Central Islip, NY.
Dennis A. Clark

Escobar’s cousin, Cindy Escobar, told reporters she had “a very difficult life since she was very young,” and “did not have a father. Didn’t have a mother. Didn’t have a stable childhood. ”

Four other MS-13 members also accused of carrying out the fatal attack are awaiting trial, while two others have been sentenced to 50 and 55 years in prison.

One of them, Jorge Portillo, who was just 15 at the time of the killing spree, pleaded guilty to charges of murder, racketeering and conspiracy in 2019.

MS-13, a notoriously vicious gang also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, was founded by Central American immigrants in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It has since grown into a global criminal enterprise – with a stronghold on Long Island.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.