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MS-13’s ‘Little Devil’ to stand NY trial in brutal 2017 slayings

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A female MS-13 gang member known as “Little Devil” will face trial Monday on charges she helped lure five young men into a savage 2017 ambush that left four of them dead.

Leniz Escobar, nicknamed “Diablita,” is charged with coaxing the unsuspecting victims — Michael Lopez, Justin Llivicura, Jorge Tigre and Jefferson Villalobos — into a wooded area in Central Islip, where they were beaten and hacked to death by MS-13 gangsters.

Their mangled bodies were discovered near a soccer field in a Central Islip park on April 12, 2017.

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A fifth victim escaped the massacre. 

ICE agents detain a suspected MS-13 gang member and Honduran immigrant at his home in  Brentwood, N.Y., in March.
(Getty)

In a December 2019 ruling, US Circuit Judge Joseph Bianco alleged Escobar “knowingly lured the unsuspecting victims to a prearranged location in the Central Islip woods where they were murdered with machetes, knives and tree limbs.”

The judge said Escobar, who was 17 at the time, was suspected of “instigating the murders, along with another juvenile female, by locating photographs of some of the victims flashing MS-13 gang signs on social media … and then showing those photographs to MS-13 members.”

Federal prosecutors called the attack “a horrific frenzy of violence” in court papers.

“Additionally, Escobar discarded the bloody clothing that she had been wearing on the night of the murders,” the court filing said.

They claim Escobar was an associate of MS-13 who was trying to curry favor with the gang by luring the young men to their deaths. It’s unclear whether the victims were rival gang members or just MS-13 wannabes. 

Police tape is seen in a wooded area in Long Island, New York where remains were discovered. It is believed that the victims were killed by MS-13 gang members.

Police tape is seen in a wooded area in Long Island, New York where remains were discovered. It is believed that the victims were killed by MS-13 gang members.
(AP)

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Four other MS-13 members also accused of carrying out the fatal attack are awaiting trial, while two others have been sentenced to 50 and 55 years in prison.

One of them, Jorge Portillo, who was just 15 at the time of the killing spree, pleaded guilty to charges of murder, racketeering and conspiracy in 2019.

Escobar has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. She will be tried as an adult in federal court in Central Islip. Prosecutors said the trial is expected to take three to four weeks. 

Numerous suspected MS-13 gang members have been arrested on Long Island in the past month, officials said.

Numerous suspected MS-13 gang members have been arrested on Long Island in the past month, officials said.
(Photo Courtesy of ICE)

Her attorney, Jesse Siegel, told the Associated Press that “after almost five years, Ms. Escobar is looking forward to having her day in court.”

MS-13, a notoriously vicious gang also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, was founded by Central American immigrants in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It has since grown into a global criminal enterprise — with a stronghold in Long Island.

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