Suspected MS-13 members charged in Suffolk slayings appear in court

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CENTRAL ISLIP -

More than a dozen suspected MS-13 gang members faced a judge Wednesday in connection with the slayings of multiple Long Island teenagers.

The 17 accused gang members were in Central Islip federal court for a routine conference. They had full view of their family members in the audience, as well as the families of three of their alleged victims.

"You try to think of something else; it's very hard to see them there," said Elizabeth Alvarado, the mother of Nisa Mickens, one of two Brentwood High School girls killed last September.

Alvarado said the hardest part was seeing some of the men laughing and blowing kisses to their girlfriends, mothers and grandmothers.

The current indictment names 17 defendants and includes 12 murder and four attempted murder charges.

Some of the defendants could face the death penalty, and federal prosecutors asked Wednesday that those cases be separated, with which defense attorneys agreed.

"That's an unwieldy trial on the best of days, so it's going to be divided into trial groups, no matter what," said John Wallenstein, attorney for Santos Ortiz-Flores, who's charged with killing four young men in a Central Islip park in April.

All defendants are due back in court for another conference on Dec. 11.

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