Essex County jury convicts man of conspiracy to commit 2004 murder

NEWARK, NJ — An Essex County jury convicted Marvin Argueta, 37, of El Salvador, of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the murder of Miguel Gamez, 31, of Newark, according to a March 19 press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Following a trial before presiding Criminal Division Judge Ronald Wigler, the jury convicted Argueta of conspiracy to commit murder. Argueta was acquitted of the more serious charge of murder.

According to Assistant Prosecutor Justin Edwab, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Julianne Bollettieri, on Feb. 15, 2004, Argueta fatally shot Gamez and injured three other people at the La Caverna Bar on Mulberry Street in Newark at around 1 a.m.

Prior to the shooting, Argueta got into an argument with Gamez’s brother. Argueta then left the bar, obtained a gun and returned with two co-conspirators, Luis Del Cid and Carlos Hernandez, before shooting Gamez, Gamez’s brother and their spouses.

Argueta, who came to the United States in 2000, fled to El Salvador, his country of origin, immediately following the homicide.

On Nov. 12, 2004, an Essex County grand jury indicted Argueta, Del Cid and Hernandez, charging them with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, conspiracy and weapons offenses. A warrant was subsequently issued for Argueta for his failure to appear. The case remained cold against Argueta until he was located in El Salvador in 2017. In 2018, the Supreme Court of El Salvador granted extradition and Argueta was returned from El Salvador to New Jersey. 

In 2005, Del Cid, a teenager who was waived up to adult court, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Argueta and Hernandez. In 2006, Hernandez also pleaded guilty to conspiracy. To date, the whereabouts of Del Cid and Hernandez are unknown.

“Although this case happened over a decade ago and a number of witnesses, including the co-defendants, have either died or were unable to be located, this conviction was only possible because of those witnesses who were willing to come forward after 16 years of waiting as well as the law enforcement personnel who continued to pursue Argueta for his offenses,” Edwab said.

At the time of the shooting, Argueta, who was approximately 21 at the time of the homicide, was out on bail for a first-degree robbery and second-degree conspiracy, for which he was previously arrested in August 2003.

Argueta faces up to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison.