By Kevin Deutsch
Alleged Trinitarios set leader Diego Suero was denied bail in Bronx Supreme Court today after prosecutors said they had photos, texts, and other evidence showing he’s the head of the crew responsible for the murder of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz – and that he personally ordered the “hit.”
Suero, 29, donned a beaded necklace and bracelet during his appearance before Justice Robert Neary. As the reputed gang leader stood handcuffed beside his attorney, prosecutors told Neary that beads are a sign of “status” within the Trinitarios. Bronx Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dolan said her office has photos of Suero wearing long beaded necklaces – indicating a high rank in the notorious gang – along with pictures of him flashing gang signs and wearing Trinitarios gear.
The photos were retrieved from two cell phones investigators seized from Suero, which prosecutors say contain evidence proving his involvement in the mistaken identity hit on Guzman-Feliz.
“It is our belief he is the leader…and he ordered the hit,” Dolan said.
Among the evidence Dolan said links Suero to the killing: text messages that refer to “green lights,” a phrase that is Trinitarios code for acts of violence.
Prosecutors also said texts received by Suero show he had given a “green light” to a hit on a rival Trinitarios set known as “Sunset” before Junior’s murder. Suero’s alleged Trinitarios set, known as “Los Sures,” apparently mistook Junior for the targeted gang member.
“Guns set on Sunset,” read one of the texts, according to prosecutors.
Suero’s lawyer, Jorge Guttlein, said his client’s no criminal mastermind.
“I think their theory is that he’s the boss of bosses,” Guttlein said.
“He must be the worst of bosses if he told them to do this in front of cameras in a bodega,” the lawyer added, urging the judge to set bail.
Neary ordered Suero continue to be held without bond on Rikers Island, stating that prosecutors had a “rather strong case” against him.
Suero faces a host of charges including murder, conspiracy, and gang assault. Although he wasn’t present when Guzman-Feliz was killed last June, prosecutors said he formulated the plan to carry out the hit.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
More than a dozen alleged Trinitarios gang members face charges in connection with killing Guzman-Feliz, an NYPD Explorer who was dragged out of a bodega on 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue in Tremont and slashed to death with machetes and knives, officials said.
Authorities have said the accused gang members mistook Guzman-Felix for a rival they intended to murder.
Authorities say the Trinitarios were founded on Rikers Island in 1992, in order to protect inmates of Dominican descent from competing gangs. They quickly morphed into a violent organization, officials said, both in the corrections system and on the streets, as members began to be released from incarceration and continued their membership.
Officials say the Trinitarios gang in New York has a clear, well-organized hierarchy, but Guttlein disputed the notion that Suero led any kind of organized criminal group.
“There’s no evidence” connecting Suero to the killing, Guttlein said.
Suero, who has pleaded not guilty, is next due in court May 2.