17-year-old MS-13 member pleads guilty in quadruple homicide

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CENTRAL ISLIP -

An MS-13 gang member pleaded guilty in a Central Islip courtroom Monday to taking part in a quadruple homicide last year.

Josue Portillo, 17, admitted that he stabbed at least one of the four victims after the gang lured him to a Central Islip park last April, when he was 15. 

"We tricked the victims so they would go into the woods, so they would be murdered," Portillo said, adding that the gang used promises of marijuana to help coax their victims to the place they would die.

He said that he and another gang member stabbed 20-year-old Michael Banegas Lopez to death.

The other victims included Jefferson Villalobos, Jorge Tigre and Justin Llivicura. Other gang members used machetes, a knife, sticks and an axe to kill them, Portillo said.

He said the gang spent weeks planning their deaths because they believed they were members of a rival gang.

"I will forever suffer the pain knowing how senseless these murders were," Portillo said in a prepared statement. "None of the victims deserved to die."

He pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. He faces up to life in prison at his sentencing in January.

Prosecutors said that had Portillo's case gone to trial, they had strong evidence against him — including cellphone records that place him in the park at the time of the slayings and text messages between him and female MS-13 members who allegedly helped lure the victims into the park. They also have the testimony from a fifth victim, who survived the attack.

Relatives of Banegas Lopez and Tigre were in court for the guilty plea. They declined to speak to News 12.

The other suspects charged in the quadruple homicide are Alexi Hernandez, Santos Leonel Ortiz-Flores, Omar Villalta, Edwin Diaz, and six juveniles -- including Portillo, whose case was unsealed Monday. 

Despite his age and his attorney's objection, Portillo's case has been transferred to adult status. The judge agreed to do so citing "substantial risk" that he would return to "violent activity" if given a lighter sentence as a minor.

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