Queens man gets 20 years for role in murder of two brothers

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Juror Box. Jury box in courtroom at small rural county courthouse

BUFFALO, N.Y. — U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Misael Montalvo, 45, of Queens, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who handled the case, stated that between 2000 and November 2011, the defendant conspired to sell cocaine in the Buffalo area. In 2004, Montalvo, having previously resided in Buffalo, moved to Queens, NY, and returned to Buffalo approximately twice a month to sell cocaine.

Following a lengthy sentencing hearing, the Court determined that, as part of the drug conspiracy, the defendant orchestrated an armed burglary and robbery at the apartment of Nelson and Miguel Camacho, two brothers with whom Montalvo had been previously involved in drug trafficking activities. On November 11, 2004, Montalvo drove co-defendants Efrain Hidalgo and Brandon Jonas, whom he had recruited, along with a juvenile, to the area of the victims’ apartment. The defendant dropped them off with a loaded AK-47 rifle and an aluminum baseball bat and drove away. Thereafter, Hidalgo, Jones and the juvenile forced their way into the victims’ apartment. Once inside, Jonas immediately shot Nelson Comacho in the arm with the AK-47. As Hildalgo, Jonas, and the juvenile searched the apartment for money, Hildalgo encountered Miguel Comacho, who pointed a gun at him. Jonas then shot Miguel Comacho repeatedly with the AK-47, killing him. Thereafter, Jonas also shot an injured Nelson Comacho in the head, killing him as well. No money or drugs were stolen during the armed burglary and robbery.  In determining that Montalvo ought to be held responsible for the murders, Judge Arcara concluded, “while the defendant did not intend for Jonas to murder his former co-conspirators, the ruthlessness of his planned armed burglary and robbery that resulted in their murder reflects of the nature of the co-conspirator relationships with the victims sufficiently to reflect on the seriousness of his drug conspiracy offense of conviction. Accordingly, the Court finds that an upward departure or variance to account for the felony murders applies.”

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While imposing sentence, Judge Arcara noted that an innocent man, Josue Ortiz, wrongly served 10 years in state prison for the murders of the brothers. As a result of this federal prosecution, in 2015, Josue Ortiz was able to get his New York State homicide conviction vacated by an Erie County Court judge.

Efrain Hidalgo, who was the leader of the 7th Street Gang, was previously convicted and sentenced to serve 330 months in prison. Brandon Jonas was also previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

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“This prosecution, quite literally, helped to transform the West Side of the City of Buffalo,” noted U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Thanks to the investigative efforts of the Buffalo Police Department, the New York State Police, and the FBI, and the tremendous work of prosecution team led by AUSA Tripi, control of the West Side of Buffalo was removed from these violent street gangs and returned to the law-abiding residents and business owners who live in the neighborhood. As a result of this prosecution, a total of 65 individuals who were members or associates of the 10th Street and 7th Street gangs were convicted in federal court, and 64 have been sentenced. Ten cold case homicides, involving murders of victims ranging in age from 14-to 47-years-old, and including gang rivals, drug dealers, and innocent bystanders/people shot via mistaken identity, were solved as a result of this prosecution—as were dozens of non-fatal attempted murder shootings. Four of the 65 defendants went to trial and each was convicted and each sentenced to life imprisonment. This prosecution demonstrates that although a strong law enforcement response may not alone be sufficient to solve the problem of violence in our community, it is an indispensable part of the solution, and there can be no lasting solutions without it.”

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The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major James Hall; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.