19-year-old charged with murder in case previously linked to MS-13

A 19-year-old named Jose Lopez has been charged with murder in New York after police discovered the body of a teen who had been missing for two years. Police say the killing was connected to the violent gang MS-13. From Newsday:


Jose Lopez, 19, of Howard Avenue is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at First District Court in Hempstead on a second-degree murder charge in the slaying of Josue Amaya Leonor, 19.

After Leonor’s body was found, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said there was “no doubt” that Leonor was the victim of the MS-13 gang, responsible for a wave of deaths on Long Island.

Leonor’s body was found buried deep in a wooded area two weeks ago. From Pix 11:

Investigators found the remains of Josue Amaya Leonor, 19, on Wednesday.  He was buried 5 feet underground about a mile into a wooded area…

Leonor’s remains were found one day after an arrest was made in a separate MS-13 murder case. Police arrested Josue Figueroa-Velasquez, 18, in connection with the murder of Angel Soler. His body was also found in a wooded lot in Roosevelt.

Soler, whose body was discovered in October, had been hacked to death with a machete. Both Soler and Leonor were also friends with 20-year-old Kerin Pineda who was also killed by the gang. His body was also discovered last year.


MS-13 is believed to be responsible for as many as 25 murders on Long Island. President Trump made news recently when he referred to gang members as “animals.” A bill to provide up to $50 million in federal grants to fight gangs like MS-13 was passed earlier this month:

“It is clear that the resurgence of MS-13 is a multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-faceted solution incorporating efforts from all levels of government, law enforcement and communities,” [Rep. Barbara] Comstock said on the House floor earlier Wednesday.

The bill authorizes $50 million to be appropriated from 2019 through 2021 to be administered by the Justice Department.

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David Strom 3:30 PM | June 20, 2024