April 12, 2017 / 7:09 PM / 2 years ago

New Jersey gang-related murder adds to FBI's 'Most Wanted' list

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A reputed gang member accused of wielding a baseball bat, knife and screwdriver to murder a New Jersey man rumored to have socialized with a rival gang was added on Wednesday to the FBI’s list of “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.”

Walter Yovany Gomez, who appears to be in his 20s, is wanted on a federal arrest warrant for violent crime in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering for the May 8, 2011 killing, the FBI said. Gomez, who is from Honduras and is in the U.S. illegally, is a member of the Plainfield Locos Salvatrucha (PLS) gang, a New Jersey branch of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) transnational gang, the FBI said.

He was accused of killing a non-gang member, Julio Matute, who was described as his 20s, a hardworking landscaper from El Salvador who was living legally in Plainfield, said FBI Agent Daniel Brunner.

“It came down to, ‘Hey, I hear Julio may have been hanging out with the wrong gang,’” Brunner said when asked about the motive for the killing. “That’s how things happen in the gang world. It doesn’t take much to get the order to kill.”

Gomez and a co-conspirator befriended the victim and invited themselves to his apartment for drinks one evening. In the morning, as he walked to the door to head for work, they attacked him, Brunner said.

Gomez is accused of striking Matute in the head with a baseball bat, sliced his throat with a knife and stabbed him in the back 17 times with a screwdriver.

His co-conspirator, Cruz Flores, who is from El Salvador and was in the U.S. illegally, kicked Matute in the head throughout the incident, Brunner said. He has been convicted of Matute’s homicide and sentenced to life in prison, Brunner said.

Gomez, who has ties to Virginia and Maryland, was among 14 people indicted in the crime. All but Gomez have been convicted and sentenced, Brunner said.

The rival gang is 18th Street gang, which is widely known to be an arch adversary of MS-13, Brunner said.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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