MS-13 Gang Boss Carlos “Silencio” Ortega

By David Amoruso

A federal judge described him as an “extremely dangerous” man who killed people for “sport.” Carlos Ortega’s young age, teeny appearance, and big ears disguised his murderous personality. But on the streets of El Salvador and New York, his ruthlessness became known very quickly.

Ortega illegally entered the United States arriving from El Salvador. Prosecutors say he was “a big homeboy” there and came to Long Island to see how the local chapters of MS-13 were operating. Apparently there was quite a difference between the American chapter’s modus operandi and the one in El Salvador.

The Americans needed to step up their game.
After Ortega’s arrival, the gang’s presence increased, according to a source who talked to The Village Voice. “They were everywhere in Brentwood,” he said. “They hang out in front of the junior high and hit on 13-year-old girls. They'd roll up 10 deep and try and fight people, and you have to fight back. If you get labeled a punk in Brentwood, you're done. But the cops didn't care until people started dying.”

The cops didn’t care. It’s a phrase we hear a lot when it comes to gang violence. Law enforcement’s focus is on the glamorous Mafia and drug cartel cases, leaving violent street gangs free to terrorize the streets as they please. But that is simply not true.

According to an FBI press release, Ortega’s conviction is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of MS-13. Since 2002, more than 200 MS-13 members, including more than two dozen clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. More than 100 of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges. Since 2010 alone, this office has convicted more than 30 members of MS-13 on charges relating to their participation in one or more murders.

With numerous branches, or “cliques,” MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island. Being the biggest gives any being a sense of invincibility, even more so for Ortega who had grown up accustomed with the extreme violence and lawlessness in El Salvador.

First up, Ortega wanted his gang to murder a member of rival gang The Latin Kings. They settled on a local 21-year-old pot dealer named David Sandler. Though, Sandler’s relatives and friends would later all deny he was a member of the Latin Kings, Ortega had chosen his target and set in motion the assassination.

Under the guise of wanting to buy some weed, Ortega set up a meet with Sandler on February 17, 2010. According to the source of The Village Voice, a friend who was present that day, Sandler already had his doubts about Ortega’s plans, feeling he might become the victim of setup. For his security, Sandler wanted the deal to take place at a deli on Timberline Drive in Brentwood.

“When the gangsters showed up, Sandler was there with our source,” The Village Voice reported. “’Silencio,’ who previously had agreed to kill Sandler, approached the two men with Sosa. When Sosa handed Sandler the money, ‘Silencio’ started shooting, hitting Sandler in the head and hand. Our source also suffered a gunshot wound to the head, but survived. He credits Sandler with saving his life that night.”

A month later, Ortega and his underlings were at it again. Mario Alberto Canton Quijada was a member of MS-13 who had one serious flaw for a gangster: He didn’t like hurting people. It made him a decent person in the civilized world, but it made him a target in the world in which he himself operated. With the arrival of Ortega, Quijada’s end was near.

On March 17, 2010, Quijada was lured to the beach in Far Rockaway. He was told they would be attacking rival gang members. However, once alone on the beach, Quijada’s fellow gang members tried to shoot him in the head with a semi-automatic handgun, which had been used in several other murders committed by MS-13, including the murders of a young woman and her 2-year-old son.

Unfortunately for Quijada, the gun jammed. Without a gun, Ortega and the others pulled out knives and machetes and brutally hacked him to death. One of the blows “penetrated deep into Quijada's skull, through his eye-socket, which resulted in the machete becoming lodged in the skull.”

Two years later Ortega’s reign of terror came to an end when he was placed under arrest. Yesterday, it became official as he was found guilty following a six-week trial on all counts, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, murder, assault with dangerous weapons, and related firearms and conspiracy offenses.

He was sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years. That’s a long time behind bars for the gangbanger who is still only 24 years old.

A reporter for News 12 Long Island who was present in the courtroom said that Ortega showed no emotion as the verdict was read. At times during the proceedings he smirked, she said.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos stated, “The victims were robbed of their futures by the defendant’s senseless killing spree. His cowardly acts have earned him a life sentence. The defendant’s imprisonment should be a reminder to all those who participate in gang activity that violence and victimization of the public will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the FBI. The FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force is committed to ridding the streets of these violent criminals. Our resolve is strong, and we will not stop until every last gang member is brought to justice.”

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