US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, June 25, 2020
Twenty-six alleged Trinitario gang members were charged Thursday in Bronx District court following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, and the New York City Department of Correction’s Correction Intelligence Bureau, with assistance from the New York City Department of Investigation. According to the investigation, current or former Rikers Island inmates carried out a total of 14 violent acts in the jail between September 2015 and July 2019. Half of those incidents were against rival gang members, and half against fellow Trinitarios who broke rules of the gang and who were not in good standing. Out of the 14 incidents, 12 were slashings and stabbings. The defendants conspired through various forms of communication, including phone calls and letters, and by using coded language.
“Transnational criminal organizations will operate without boundaries, as in this case with alleged connections to brutal violence, slashings and stabbings while incarcerated,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “HSI New York will continue to pursue and dismantle transnational gangs like the Trinitarios, wherever they operate. It is with the tremendous collaboration with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, NYC DOC and DOI that this investigation took down more than two dozen members of a gang that exists only to brutalize and endanger our communities.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said, “During their time in Rikers Island, these defendants allegedly conspired and engaged in numerous slashings and stabbings that caused grievous wounds. They allegedly carried out these attacks in order to preserve and protect the power of the Trinitario gang, meting out punishment to their own members as well as rivals. We will not tolerate such brutality against incarcerated individuals and will hold people accountable even after they have left jail. We will continue to attack the pipeline of violence from Rikers Island to the streets.”
DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann said, “We will not tolerate violence in City jails, and are doing everything possible to bring those responsible to justice. The safety and security of the people who live and work in our facilities is our top priority. Our Correction Intelligence Bureau works tirelessly to increase safety in city jails, and we are proud of their hard work in this case, which involved collaboration with fellow law enforcement partners citywide. Gang activity drives a disproportionate amount of violence on city streets and amongst those in custody, and because of the indictments announced today both communities are safer.”
DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, “Violence perpetuated by gang members inside of our City’s jails cannot be tolerated and must be investigated to the fullest extent to protect inmates and correction officers. DOI is proud to partner with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office on many investigations at Correction facilities and to lend our expertise and assistance on this important matter alongside Homeland Security Investigations and the City Department of Correction’s Correction Intelligence Bureau.”
The 69-count indictment includes five counts of attempted gang assault in the first degree, 14 counts of attempted assault in the first degree, 31 counts of second-degree assault, two counts of Attempted Assault in the second degree, fourth and fifth-degree conspiracy, 16 counts of third-degree assault, and attempted assault in the third degree. Twelve defendants, six of whom are inmates at Rikers Island and six who had previously been discharged from custody, were arraigned this week before Bronx Supreme Court Justice George Villegas. They are due back in court July 9, 2020. Four defendants have not been apprehended as of yet and the remaining 10 defendants are scheduled to be produced from state and federal custody for arraignment.
According to the investigation, on September 15, 2017, Jovier de la Cruz, 26, Pedro Valera, 28, and Rafael Perez, 26, entered the cell of Joseph Feliciano, an alleged Trinitario, and slashed him in the face with a sharp object. On November 16, 2017, Jesus Matos, 22, Kevin Cabrera, 26, Darlin Feliz, 32, and Victor Capellan, 27, slashed Shawn Stevens, an alleged member of a rival gang, twice in the face and once in the arm.
According to the investigation, Jesus Zapata, 30, was the leader of the Trinitarios gang on Rikers Island from 2017 to 2018, and was later replaced by Hector Hernandez, 25, who took command between 2018 to 2019. Zapata and Hernandez allegedly ordered an attack against Steven Ayala, an alleged Trinitario gang member. On April 10, 2018, Valera slashed Ayala in the face and back. About a month later, Hernandez slashed Michael Franco, an alleged member of a rival gang, in the face as the victim walked down a hallway.
According to the investigation, on October 8, 2018, Francisco Nunez, 22, and Paul Corporan, 21, slashed Tyreek Covington in the arm, back and neck, and slashed Deontay Boyd in the face. Covington and Boyd are allegedly part of a rival gang. On July 28, 2019, Ernie Garcia, 22, Diogenes Hernandez, 19, Jerry Polanco, 21, Ariel Tavarez, 22, John Polanco, 21, and Jose Paniagua, 19, allegedly slashed Julian Diaz in the arm. The victim lost a vast amount of blood due to the attack. On December 16, 2018, Jeremy Bello, 29, and Jonathan Davila, 21, slashed Carlos Capellan, an alleged Trinitario who was in bad standing, in the face.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Abramovitz, Supervisor in the Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Jordan Montoya, also of the Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau, under the supervision of Francis T. Alberts, Chief of the Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau, and under the overall supervision of Tarek Rahman, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and Wanda Perez-Maldonado, Chief of the Investigations Division. An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.
- Jesus Zapata, AKA Jeezy, AKA Jeezy Hendrix, 30, Manhattan
- Hector Hernandez, 25, NYS DOCCS
- Jesus Matos AKA Savage, 22, NYS DOCCS
- Pedro Valero, AKA Cuzzo, AKA, Montro, AKA Monstro, 28, NYC DOC
- Francisco Nunez, AKA Buenon, AKA Buenom, AKA Buenon Pretty, AKA Sesenta, 22, NYC DOC Custody
- Jeremy Bello, AKA Pistola, AKA Pitola, AKA Coro, 29, NYS DOCCS
- Brayan Lloret, AKA Brayon Lloret, AKA E.T., 22, Manhattan
- Daniel Hernandez, AKA Twitch, AKA Rico, 19, NYS DOCCS
- Jonathan Davila, AKA Jonathan Davilla, AKA J.O., AKA J.O. Baller, 21, NYC DOC
- Victor Capellan, AKA Tecato, 27, NYC DOC
- Paul Corporan, AKA Grande, AKA El Cata, 21, NYC DOC
- Marcos Espinal, AKA Ito, 23, NYS DOCCS
- Darlin Feliz, AKA D-Block, 32, NYS DOCCS
- Leonardo DelaCruz, AKA Peetie Po, 21, Bronx
- Antonio Mora, AKA Chucky, 27, Federal Custody
- Braian Chu, AKA Briann Chu, AKA Braian Berrea, AKA Brian Berrea, AKA Chino, 21, Bronx
- Dennis Miller, AKA Menace, 26, Queens
- Jovier DelaCruz, 26, NYS DOCCS
- Kelvin Cabrera, AKA Kevin Cabrera, 26, Bronx
- Rafael Perez, AKA Haivita, 26, NYS DOCCS
- Ariel Tavarez, 22, Queens
- Ernie Garcia, 22, Manhattan
- Diogenes Hernandez, AKA J.J., 19, Bronx
- Jerry Polanco, 21, Brooklyn
- Jose Panigua, AKA Bad Bunny, 19, NYC DOC
- John Polanco, 21, Manhattan