In the wake of a suspected MS-13 slaying off Glenn Curtiss Boulevard in East Meadow, Nassau County police are theorizing that the victim was murdered because of his disloyalty to the gang and his attempts to thwart its activities.
Police arrested Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, 21, of Uniondale, less than 24 hours after the body was found in a wooded area behind Kellenberg High School on Aug. 29. Benitez-Hernandez was charged with second-degree murder, and was scheduled to appear in First District Court in Hempstead on Tuesday, after press time.
On Aug. 31, police identified the victim as Carlos Rivas-Majano, 22, of Uniondale. Rivas-Majano was most likely murdered last month because of the “gang’s displeasure with his actions within the group or something that they felt was disrespectful to them or a threat to them,” Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said at a news conference following Benitez-Hernandez’s arrest.
At least five other MS-13 members are suspected accomplices in the murder, and have been arrested since then, police said.
This was the sixth time in the past year that police discovered a victim allegedly killed by the El Salvadoran gang MS-13. Victims were also found in the woods between Freeport and Merrick, in Freeport and in Massapequa.
Nassau County police received a tip on Aug. 28 to search the area near Glenn Curtiss Boulevard for the grave of someone who might have been killed by MS-13, according to Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. Officials began investigating with members of the federal Department of Homeland Security and Drug Enforcement Agency, and returned the following morning with representatives of the Nassau County district attorney’s office and emergency services.
After digging through what Ryder called “dense bramble,” officials uncovered Rivas-Majano’s remains in a grave about one and a half feet deep. Police are speculating that the killing followed the pattern of the other MS-13 murders on Long Island, in which gang members lure the victim into a wooded area before hacking him to death with machetes and other sharp instruments.
“Again we are reminded of the brutality of gang violence,” County Executive Laura Curran said at a news conference following the discovery. “There are too many parents, too many families who have seen their children butchered by these gangs, and this must stop.”
Benitez-Hernandez has a violent criminal history, is a self-admitted MS-13 member and was already in custody at the time of his arrest, Fitzpatrick said.
Scott Brinton contributed to this story.