Ledwin Castro, also known as “Hueso,” Spanish for bone, was sentenced by Judge Arthur Spatt at U.S. District Court in Central Islip following Castro’s Oct. 14 racketeering conviction of conspiracy, assault and the illegal use of firearms in connection with two drive-by shootings on perceived rivals nearly seven years ago.
Castro, who was the leader of Freeport’s chapter, or “clique,” of La Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, had joined with three fellow gang members from Freeport and Hempstead when they fired seven gunshots from a stolen vehicle into a group of teenagers in a Hempstead laundromat parking lot, seriously wounding a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy, on June 18, 2003.
Castro, 27, and his accomplices then drove to Freeport, where they shot a 19-year old man seven times. In both shootings, they assumed the victims were members of a rival gang.
Castro’s lead co-defendant, 30-year-old Freeport MS-13 member David Vasquez, also known as “Gigante,” Spanish for giant, pleaded guilty to two counts of using a firearm to commit assault in furtherance of a racketeering activity and was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Oct. 2.
Castro’s sentencing came three months after Josue Otoniel Rubi-Gonzalez, the former Long Island MS-13 leader also known as “Bam Bam,” was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole—also following a re-trail.
Rubi-Gonzalez, 24, and two fellow MS-13 members murdered 22-year-old Jesus Valentin in Central Islip when they mistook the victim for a member of the Latin Kings on June 30, 2003. After luring Valentin into a wooded area near Lowell Avenue, the trio brutally beat him with a fire extinguisher and lumber before Rubi-Gonzalez fatally stabbed the victim with a pocket knife and hid the body in a drain pipe, where it was not discovered until nearly five months later.
In both cases, the original convictions were overturned in appellate court. The cases were tried by federal prosecutors following an investigation by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force.
“Those who chose to commit violent crimes on behalf of a gang should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives in prison.” Benton Campbell, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.
Since 2002, more than 120 MS-13 members, including more than a dozen clique leaders, have been convicted in federal court on LI and more than 50 of those have been convicted on racketeering charges, prosecutors said. Seventeen have been sentenced to more than 10 years and more than a dozen are awaiting sentencing on murder convictions.
Tags: Benton Campbell, Central Islip, David Vasquez, FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, Freeport, Hempstead, Jesus Valentin, Josue Otoniel Rubi-Gonzalez, La Mara Salvatrucha, Ledwin Castro, MS-13, U.S. Attorney General for the Eastern District of New York