An MS-13 gangster’s moll dubbed Little Devil has been convicted of luring four young men to their deaths at a machete massacre on Long Island.
Leniz Escobar, 22, was found guilty of each of her six charges after just 16 minutes of juror deliberation deliberation on Monday.
She faces life behind bars at her sentencing later this year.
Escobar stared blankly and stiff-shouldered as the verdict was read.
She was accused of drawing the young men to a local park after lying to the MS-13 members, saying that they had ‘mocked’ the notorious gangsters, prosecutor Justina Geraci said during closing arguments in the trial, which wrapped up last week in Central Islip, New York.
In a video of a jailhouse call released last Thursday Escobar said that she ‘was really happy’ with what she’d done.
Leniz ‘Little Devil’ Escobar, 22, is on trial on federal racketeering charges for allegedly luring four high school students to their deaths at the hands of MS-13 gang members in 2017
Justin Llivicura (left) and Jefferson Villalobos (right) were hacked to death in a Central Islip, New York, park in April 2017
Michael Lopez Banega (left) and Jorge Tigre (right) were the other two victims killed by MS-13 members after allegedly being lured by Escobar
Friends and family of Leniz Escobar leaving the courthouse in Central Islip, Long Island, following Monday’s conviction
Escobar’s cousin, Sindy Escobar (left), told reporters last week that Escobar came from a troubled past. The moll now faces up to life behind bars for the murders she orchestrated
The conversation, played during Escobar’s trial Thursday and obtained by the, was released just before the jury began their deliberations.
Escobar tells boyfriend Jeffrey Amador she ‘f–ked up’ because one of the five young men – Elmer Alexander Arteaga Ruiz, who testified at the trial – escaped.
Amador then angrily asked: ‘So, why the f–k do you have to get involved in that s–t?’ What you’d get out of all this?’
‘Nothing,’ Escobar replied. ‘I was gonna be happy. Because I was really happy. I’m telling you straight out, I was happy for this to happen.’
‘Yeah,’ Amador said. ‘I know that you get excited with stuff like that, with crazy stuff, you know?’
‘Yeah,’ Escobar answered. ‘I was happy for that to happen.’
A family friend of Escobar gave an emotional statement in Spanish to reporters outside the court house on Monday
This comes after Geraci detailed the joy Escobar seemed to take in the death of Michael Lopez, 20, and three friends – Justin Llivicura, 16, Jorge Tigre, 18, and Jefferson Villalobos, 18 – all executed by the notorious gang.
‘You heard [MS-13 gang member] David Gaitan-Rivera’s testimony,’ Geraci told the jury of the 2017 slayings. ‘He told you how one of the victims had reached for [Escobar] before he was killed and his blood had gotten all over her shirt. He told you how she licked her lips.’
Keyli Gomez, a friend of Diablita, testified earlier in the week that she and Escobar ‘crouched down by the victims and watched as they were killed. Not screaming or crying while the victims were macheted to death.’
Geraci also said Escobar – whose boyfriend was a high ranking member of the gang – smiled as Lopez, 20, was hacked to death.
While prosecutors were outlining their case one last time for the jury, Escobar was seen smiling and joking with her legal team, wearing her hair in a ponytail and chrome piercings on her cheeks.
Escobar is said to have snitched on the teens for claiming to have been MS-13 gang members on social media, with its real members deciding to execute them for it -deeming the social media boasting a show of disrespect.
They were also accused by the gang of being members of the rival 18th Street Gang.
One of the intended victims, Elmer Alexander Arteaga Ruiz, made it out alive by running for his life. He testified against Escobar at trial.
They allege that Escobar and Gomez brought them to a park to smoke marijuana as the gangsters waited to kill them.
Recalling the moment his friends were hacked to death, Ruiz told the court: ‘They came through a hole in the fence.
‘There were eight or nine. They covered their faces with sweaters. They came and formed a semi-circle. They told us get down on our knees.
‘They said, ‘Don’t move. Whoever moves, dies.
A photo of Leniz ‘Diablita’ Escobar from Snapchat, whom prosecutors allege brought the victims to a park to smoke marijuana as the gangsters waited to kill them
Family and friends say goodbye to Justin Llivicura at his burial in a cemetery on April 19, 2017
Llivicura was just 16 years old when he was brutally murdered by gangsters on Long Island
A car found just outside the Central Islip Recreational Center where more than a dozen MS-13 members armed with machetes, knives, an axe and other weapons lay in wait for the victims
The area of the Central Islip Recreational Center where the four boys were killed, with a fifth running away
‘I ran because the first words they said was that we were going to die, they were going to kill us, and they had weapons…
‘I took off running and there were two people who started to follow me,’ he said. ‘Thank God I managed to escape.’
Ruiz said he and his friends had made the MS-13 posts in a bid to impress women and that he and his young pals were ‘just high school kids who were trying to look tough.’
‘[Ruiz] was a poser and that’s why he was marked for death,’ Geraci said of Ruiz. ‘He thought this stuff would attract girls and it did – but not in the way he had hoped.’
Escobar’s boyfriend, an MS-13 member, testified saying the gang was being overrun by kids and had no balls.
Prosecutors say Escobar was 17 years old in April 2017, when she helped orchestrate the massacre as an associate of the notoriously ruthless gang before falsely claiming to be a victim in the ambush.
MS-13 had been seeking to settle a score, prosecutors allege, and believed the young victims – – to be members of the rival 18th Street Gang. The victims’ families have denied that any of the slain men were in a gang.
Diablita’s attorneys have argued that she did not know the victims would be in any way attacked and that she was not a member or associate of the gang.
Feared gang is behind thousands of US murders
MS-13 is a transnational gang that has committed horrendous acts of violence across America.
The gang’s motto is ‘mata, viola, controla’ which means ‘kill, rape, control’.
There are more than 10,000 MS-13 members in the US and more than 30,000 worldwide.
MS-13 leaders in the US often communicate and take orders from gang leaders in El Salvador.
Long Island communities have been strongly impacted by the violence and suffering spread by MS-13.
Police suspect the gang was involved in at least 25 killings on Long Island between 2016 and 2018.
‘Not every girlfriend is an associate,’ defense attorney Jesse Siegel said. ‘Her boyfriend was a homeboy. She was there. She certainly didn’t prevent it from happening. The issue is if she knew something was going to happen.’
At one point Siegel accidentally said ‘you should find her guilty’ before correcting himself.
During opening statements on March 21st, Assistant US Attorney Megan Farrell said that the victims were ‘just high school kids’ whose only crime was flashing MS-13 gang signs on social media to ‘look tough and get attention,’ reported.
Their macho posturing, however, was interpreted by the MS-13 cohorts as a sign of disrespect punishable by death.
According to prosecutors, Escobar, known then by the moniker ‘Diabalita,’ or ‘Little Devil,’ was seeking to curry favor with MS-13 and alerted its members to the victims’ location in a wooden area.
Farrell described Escobar as a ‘devoted associate’ of the gang, where her boyfriend was a high-ranking member.
On April 11, 2017, the four victims founded themselves in a Central Islip park, surrounded by more than a dozen MS-13 gang members brandishing machetes, knives and tree limbs.
Farrell told the jury that the killers ordered the five high schoolers to get down on the ground.
‘The defendant pretended to be one of the victims and got down. The real victims took off running, but [Artega Ruiz] was the only one fast enough to escape. The other four were hacked to death,’ the prosecutor said, describing the victims’ terrified screams filling the night air.
Under MS-13 rules, the killings had been ‘pre-authorized’ by gang leadership, prosecutors said, and contributors to the carnage stood to gain membership or ascend the organization’s ranks.
Farrell said that a day after the slaughter, Escobar ‘bragged about her important role in the murders’ and told her boyfriend that ‘she did it to be happy and was happy it happened.’
Authorities said Escobar later tossed her cellphone from a moving vehicle — as well as a SIM card that had been removed and damaged so badly law enforcement couldn’t recover its contents.
The mutilated bodies of the victims were discovered on April 13, 2017, in a Central Islip park. They were slaughtered with machetes, knives and tree limbs
The casket of Justin Llivicura is carried from St. Joseph the Worker Church after Llivicura’s funeral on April 19, 2017, in East Patchogue, New York
‘Additionally, Escobar discarded the bloody clothing that she had been wearing on the night of the murders,’ prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
In his opening statement, Escobar’s defense attorney, Keith White, attempted to distance his client from the attackers and argued that she did not know that the victims would be killed.
On Day 1 of the trial the jury also heard testimony from Nassau County Detective Donal Britton, who described the gruesome scene that officers came upon in the park after the killings.
‘They were lying on top of each other,’ he said of the victims. ‘There was a lot of blood.’
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