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Guilty plea entered in 2004 double murder linked to Lower West Side gang war

For more than a decade, Brandon Jonas escaped conviction for the double murder of two brothers on Buffalo’s West Side.

Jonas admitted Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo to using an AK-47 assault rifle in the fatal shooting of Nelson and Miguel Camacho as part of a failed robbery attempt in November 2004.

As part of a plea deal that could limit his prison sentence to 35 years or less, Jonas pleaded guilty to two counts of discharging a firearm in the course of a violent crime.

His guilty plea is the latest chapter in a murder case that sent the wrong man to prison for more than a decade. Josue Ortiz, the man originally convicted of killing the Camachos, was recently released from prison after the courts vacated his conviction.

Jonas’ plea also follows similar admissions by Efrain “Cheko” Hidalgo, one of two other men charged in the murders.

Hidalgo, one of the recognized leaders of the now-defunct Seventh Street Gang, was at the center of a turf war with the rival 10th Street Gang that led to murders and shootings on the Lower West Side.

Arrested in 2011 after fleeing to Puerto Rico, Hidalgo admitted taking part in four fatal shootings, including the Camacho murders.

One other defendant, Misael Montalvo, is still charged in the double murder.

Jonas will face a maximum of life in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

His guilty plea is the result of a prosecution by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi and an investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, a coalition of police agencies that led the crackdown on West Side gangs.