We need your help — Support your hometown newspaper by making a donation.

Police name sixth defendant in alleged MS-13 murder

Posted

A sixth defendant has been named in connection to the August 2017 machete slaying of Carlos Rivas-Majano, 22, of Uniondale, who was allegedly murdered by the Downtown Criminals clique of MS-13. He was found in a shallow grave off Glenn Curtiss Boulevard in East Meadow a year after his death.

Police arrested Luis Alejandro Varela, 21, of Mineola, who goes by the street name Felon, on July 17 on one count of second-degree murder, to which he pleaded not guilty to before Judge Angelo Deligatti.

Varela will be due back in court on July 22 and, if convicted, could face up from 25 years to life in prison, according to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas. “We will spare no resource in our effort to dismantle this violent street gang, which terrorizes our vulnerable immigrant communities,” she said.

Carlos Rivas-Majano was last seen by his family on August 11, 2017, when he told a relative he was returning from a Uniondale deli, according to officials. He was most likely murdered because of his attempts to work with law enforcement as an informant against the gang, said Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

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. Newsday reported that the victim was lured into the area believing that he was receiving "a 13-second beat down," which is one of the gang’s methods of punishing members for violations.

On Nov. 16, a grand jury indicted five defendants: Jose Quintanilla Cruz, 23, of Hempstead, Edar Ventura, 21, of Hempstead, Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, 21, of Uniondale, William Reyes-Fuentes, 23, of Uniondale, and Nerlin Chacon-Ruano, 20, of Hempstead. Throughout the week, they appeared at separate arraignments and pleaded not guilty to Justice William O’Brien in the Nassau County Supreme Court.

Four of the above cases are still pending investigation. In April, defendant Edar Ventura pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and related charges for the deaths of Rivas-Majano and Alexon Moya, who Ventura admitted to shooting in the head on a Uniondale street in 2016. Ventura was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.