December 2009 National Scene Magazine National Article
Was MS-13 Assassination Plot Unique or Latest Trend?
Government Discovered Hit Put Out on Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Who Lead Investigations into Gang’s Activities When Member Arrested
Written by: Karen Benardello
A contract was allegedly put out by the El Salvadoran leaders of the MS-13 gang on an unnamed federal agent who was responsible for the crackdown on its New York factions, the New York Daily News reported on Wednesday, November 4. The targeted agent was the lead investigator on many of the federal racketeering, murder and drug trafficking charges the members have recently faced.
The assassination of the unidentified Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent was revealed when reputed MS-13 gang member Walter (Duke) Torres was arrested in October. Torres alerted authorities to the plan after he and four other members of the gang, which was created by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles and has since spread across the country and back into Central America, were stopped by NYPD detectives for hassling a passersby on Northern Blvd. in Queens.
Torres, who was brought to Rikers Island, as there was also a warrant out for his arrest in Virginia, told police on October 22 that he had information to pass on, the Daily News learned from court papers. The NYPD rightfully took alarm, as the FBI has declared MS-13 one of the most dangerous gangs in America, and there are up to 500 MS-13 members in the New York metropolitan area alone.
Torres stated that the order for the hit on the agent reportedly came from the gang’s leadership in El Salvador. It was supposed to be carried out by the gang’s Flushing “clique,” ICE agent Sean Sweeney wrote when drafting a new affidavit against Torres, charging Torres with conspiracy. Sweeney added that Torres belonged to the MS-13 sect in Virginia. He was put in charge of the murder plot, and traveled to New York in August for the specific purpose of participating in the planning and execution of the assassination.
The NYPD and FBI have every right to investigate and arrest every gang member suspected in the murder plot. Assassination plots should not be taken lightly, especially in this case, as the gang member were believed to be looking to buy a high-powered assault rifle, like an M-16, to penetrate the agent’s bulletproof vest.
Brooklyn Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann also made the right decision when he ordered Torres to be held without bail on Friday, October 30, as Queens is one of the hotspots of MS-13 criminal activity in New York. However, other federal agents should now be more careful and cautious when they are in pursuit of alleged MS-13 gang members, as the leaders may want further retaliation for Torres’ arrest.