Alleged MS-13 member sentenced in Chelsea murder

A man with alleged gang ties was sentenced to life in prison today for the unprovoked killing of another man in Chelsea in 2011, prosecutors said.

Santos Portillo, 22, of Chelsea received a life sentence in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for second-degree murder, along with a concurrent 4 1/2-to-5-year sentence for illegally possessing the gun used to fatally shoot 38-year-old Braulio Gomez of Chelsea, said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

The incident occurred when Portillo approached of group of men whom he did not know on a porch at a Central Avenue residence just after 2 a.m. on July 8, 2011, and asked what “set”—or gang — the men belonged to, Conley said in a statement.


Gomez responded that none of the men had gang ties, prompting Portillo, who identified himself as a member of the MS-13 gang, to pull out a gun and shoot Gomez in the head.

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Gomez was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Portillo fled the state after the shooting. He was apprehended several months later in Ohio, prosecutors said.

If released for parole, Portillo will likely face deportation, prosecutors said.

Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13, is a dangerous gang composed mostly of Central Americans. It is estimated that the gang operates in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia, with as many as 10,000 members nationwide, according to the FBI.

Lauren Dezenski can be reached at