Statement of United States Attorney Breon Peace on the Verdict in United States v. Escobar

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“I am Breon Peace, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Five years ago today, on April 11, 2017, the defendant Leniz Escobar lured five young men to a park not far from the federal courthouse in Central Islip, Long Island.  Those five young men, in the prime of their lives, had no idea that Escobar was leading them to their death—into a killing field where MS-13 gang members lay in wait, armed with machetes, an axe, knives, tree limbs, and a chisel.  One of the young men managed to escape and lived to tell his story to a federal jury.  His four friends were not so fortunate. Escobar’s cohorts hacked and beat them to death.  One of the murder victims was so disfigured he was only identifiable by dental records.

Today, on the five-year anniversary of this tragic mass murder, a federal jury delivered justice to Escobar.  Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. We know that the verdict does not erase the pain you wake up with every day and will always carry with you.  But, we hope that this day brings some measure of consolation. 

My Office, and all our law enforcement partners on the FBI’s Long Island gang task force will not rest until every single MS-13 gang member and associate responsible for this horrendous crime is held accountable.  I am so grateful for my amazing team – prosecutors Paul Scotti, Justina Geraci, and Megan Farrell, paralegal Shernita Moore-Glasgow, along with the FBI special agents and the Suffolk County detectives who did such great work on this important case.

Finally, I want to thank the jury.  They came from all over our District to the courthouse for three weeks during a pandemic.  They were committed to serve, to do justice and that is exactly what they did.”

Click here for a video of the statement.