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Posted on: July 19, 2021

Five Alleged MS-13 Members Arraigned on Conspiracy Charges for 2017 Homicide

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Defendants allegedly hacked 22-year old with machete; Deceased’s body was uncovered near Meadowbrook Parkway one year later 

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith announced that five alleged MS-13 members have been arraigned on grand jury indictment charges of conspiracy for the August 2017 machete murder of Carlos Rivas-Majano, whose body was found in a wooded area along the Meadowbrook Parkway in August 2018. 

Luis Alejandro Varela, 23, also known as Felon, from Mineola; Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, 23, also known as Malaspecto, from Uniondale; Jose Quintanilla-Cruz, 26, also known as Destructo and Destructor, from Hempstead; Nerlin Chacon-Ruano, 23, also known as Callajero, from Hempstead; and William Reyes-Fuentes, 26, also known as Desobediente, from Uniondale, were arraigned before Judge Teresa Corrigan on charges of conspiracy in the second degree (a B felony). 

The defendants were remanded and four of the five defendants are due back in court on September 7, while Chacon-Ruano is due back in court on September 22. 

The defendants were previously arraigned on a charge of murder in the second degree (an A-I felony). If convicted of the combined charges the defendants face a potential maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison. 

“Carlos Rivas-Majano was lured into the woods by people he believed to be his friends,” Acting DA Smith said. “These defendants allegedly conspired to murder Rivas-Majano and mercilessly beat and hacked him with machetes. Rivas-Majano’s family suffered for more than a year until his body was finally located. MS-13 has torn apart families and communities here on Long Island and we re-affirm our commitment to dismantle this street gang.” 

Acting DA Smith said that on August 11, 2017, Carlos Rivas-Majano told a family member that he was on his way home from a deli in Uniondale and never returned home. Rivas-Majano, a perceived enemy of the gang, was lured into the woods near the Meadowbrook Parkway and Glen Curtiss Boulevard in Uniondale, where he was hacked and stabbed to death with machetes. The victim’s body was recovered in a sump on August 29, 2018. The assailants are alleged to be members of the Downtown Criminals clique of MS-13. 

Co-defendant Edar Ventura was sentenced to 32 years to life in 2019 after pleading guilty to two counts of murder, and related charges, for the deaths of Rivas-Majano and Alexon Moya. 

The investigation is ongoing. 

The case is being prosecuted by Chief Jared Rosenblatt and Senior Litigation Counsel Tracy Keeton of the Homicide Bureau. Varela is represented by William Shanahan, Esq., Benitez-Hernandez is represented by Jeff Groder, Esq., Quintanilla-Cruz is represented by Cheryl Bartow, Esq., Chacon-Ruano is represented by William Kephart, Esq., and Reyes-Fuentes is represented by Steven Barnwell, Esq.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.


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