New York Gang Leader Admits Involvement in Gruesome Suburban Murders, Pleads Guilty to Racketeering and Firearms Charges

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — A reputed leader of the notorious MS-13 gang admitted his involvement in multiple murders, including the brutal 2016 deaths of two teenage girls from Long Island, in a federal court on Wednesday. Alexi Saenz, 29, entered a guilty plea to charges encompassing racketeering and firearm offenses related to a series of violent crimes that had a profound impact on the suburban communities of Brentwood and Central Islip.

The 2016 murder of the high school students, who were attacked with a machete and a baseball bat, cast a spotlight on the violent practices of MS-13, drawing national attention and political commentary during Donald Trump’s presidency. The former president cited the incidents in his calls for harsher immigration policies and made multiple visits to Long Island, using the tragedies to underscore his administration’s focus on combatting gang violence.

In court, Saenz’s attorney read a statement on behalf of his client, who acknowledged authorizing the killings of rivals and others who had conflicts with the gang, though he claimed he was not present at the scene of the girls’ murders.

Federal prosecutors indicated that Saenz was linked to six additional homicides and three attempted murders. Among the victims was a 15-year-old boy lured to a remote location and killed, as well as a 29-year-old man shot inside a local deli. These acts of violence occurred in various settings, including wooded areas and secluded spaces, typical of gang-related activities aimed at avoiding detection.

The reaction outside the courthouse was a mix of relief and continued grief. Relatives of the victims expressed their disappointment that the death penalty was no longer being considered for Saenz, but they also conveyed a sense of closure with the avoidance of a trial, which could have prolonged their agony.

Elizabeth Alvarado, the mother of one of the slain girls, wore a shirt commemorating her daughter and spoke of her desire for peace, emphasizing the emotional toll the lengthy legal process had inflicted upon the families involved.

Following the notorious killings, law enforcement intensified efforts against MS-13, resulting in numerous arrests and charges against gang members. Saenz, known by nicknames such as “Blasty” and “Big Homie,” was described as a key figure in the gang, leading activities that ranged from murder to drug trafficking and arson, with proceeds purportedly supporting gang operations both locally and abroad.

In a poignant twist to the aftermath, one of the girls’ mothers, who turned into an anti-gang activist, was tragically killed in 2018 during a confrontation over a memorial for her daughter. This incident highlighted the ongoing struggles faced by families affected by gang violence, even as they seek to advocate for justice and change.

Saenz is expected to receive a prison sentence of 40 to 70 years at a hearing scheduled for January 31. The community and victims’ families, meanwhile, continue to cope with the lasting impact of his crimes, hoping for a resolution that brings a measure of justice and helps prevent future tragedies.

As the case moves towards sentencing, it remains a stark reminder of the destructive reach of gang activities in American suburbs, challenging communities and law enforcement to remain vigilant and proactive in combating such pervasive threats.