NEW YORK, June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William G. McMahon, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Denis Dillon, Nassau County District Attorney; and James H. Lawrence, Nassau County Police Department Commissioner; today announced the unsealing of an indictment charging five leaders and members of the Freeport chapter of the Netas, a violent street gang based on Long Island.
The charges, including a homicide, shootings, beatings and a stabbing, are the product of an investigation led by ATF's Long Island Firearms Task Force, comprised of members of ATF and the Nassau County and Suffolk County Police Departments. Most of the charges against the defendants grow out of a gang war with members of the MS-13 gang in Nassau County during the past several years.(1)
Five defendants were to be arraigned today before U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein in Central Islip, N.Y. The two remaining defendants, also members of the Netas Freeport chapter, were previously arraigned on related charges.
(1) The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to the indictment, the Netas were organized in approximately 1970 in a prison in Puerto Rico and thereafter spread to include inmates in New Jersey and New York. As Netas inmates were released from prison, they formed chapters and engaged in various criminal activities, including narcotics distribution and violent assaults and murders of rival gang members.
Each Netas chapter has a hierarchical leadership structure, including a president, vice president, treasurer, disciplinarian and a coordinator who organized monthly meetings. Prospective Netas members were required to participate in a probationary period before they were formally "blessed in" to membership at a "universal" meeting of the chapters on March 30th of each year. Members often wore red, white and black to indicate their gang affiliation, used hand signals to identify themselves to other members as well as to rival gangs, and frequently bore tattoos reading, among other things, "N.D.C.," for Neta de Corazon, meaning "Neta from the heart."
Each member was required to follow to a set of rules, which obligated the member to obtain a "green light" before committing an act of violence, and to report suspected government informants to their leaders. Gang members who violated any of the rules were disciplined at ritualized beatings, typically at a monthly meeting by the chapter's disciplinarian.
The charges announced today follow the murder of Damien Corrente, on January 14, 1999, in Freeport, N.Y. Corrente was mistakenly believed to be a Netas member by his MS-13 assailants. The Corrente murder escalated the already violent conflict between the Netas and the MS-13 gang.
The Giovanni Aguilar Homicide
Amadeo Rodriguez and Christopher Moore are charged with the execution- style shooting murder of 20-year-old Giovanni Aguilar at a residence on Jay Street in Freeport, N.Y., in the early morning hours of January 1, 2001. The indictment charges that Rodriguez and Moore murdered Aguilar, a Freeport landscaper, because they mistakenly believed that he was a member of the rival gang MS-13. As Rodriguez shot Aguilar in the face and chest, Moore fired six times into a residence containing New Year's Eve party celebrants -- including members of MS-13 -- narrowly missing a 10 year-old child. Jose Escobar and John Piedrahita are charged with accessory after-the-fact for disposing of the murder weapon.
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