Federal agents have charged three reputed street gang members on Thursday with the May 2017 murder of a 16-year-old boy stabbed more than two dozen times in Alley Pond Park in Bayside.
Authorities said the trio brutally murdered St. Albans resident Julio Vasquez, 16, of 166th Street. A birdwatcher discovered Vasquez’s decomposing remains on May 21, 2017 inside the park, off the intersection of 76th Avenue and Cloverdale Boulevard.
Jamaica residents Josue Leiva, 22, and Luis Rivas, 24, and Briarwood’s Melvi Amador-Rios, 28, now federal charges of murder, attempted murder, murder conspiracy, racketeering, robbery and firearms charges.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue stated on Sept. 12 that the murder plot was one of “multiple murder conspiracies” in which they allegedly participated. Vasquez’s death was the result of “a kill-or-be-killed plot” in which Vasquez was ordered stabbed because he did not carry out “a lethal order himself.”
“The mindless violence embodied by MS-13 presents extreme danger to our communities and underscores the resolve of this office, together with our law enforcement partners, to eradicate the gang,” Donoghue said.
Federal prosecutors said that, in early 2017, Amador-Rios, acting as the leader of Centrales Locos Salvatruchas (CLS), a clique within MS-13, ordered the murder of a low-level member of MS-13 suspected of being associated with a rival gang.
Later, authorities said, Amador-Rios suspected that another gang member had tipped off the intended target, and ordered his murder as well. He assigned Vasquez to the task, but prosecutors said Vasquez failed to carry out the order.
The indictment charges that Vasquez was lured into the wooded area of Alley Pond Park, where Leiva and Rivas stabbed him numerous times.
The city’s Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy which determined that Vasquez had sustained 28 stab wounds. It was estimated that his body had been in the park for up to a week before being found.
The indictment further charges Amador-Rios and Rivas with participating in a Jan. 8, 2017 armed robbery at a money transfer business in Jamaica, during which they pistol-whipped an employee.
Donoghue said the three defendants will be arraigned at a later date. All three face life in prison if convicted.
“This case provides an illustration of extreme violence of gangs and their members,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “And it’s why the NYPD and its law enforcement partners aggressively pursue those who commit violent crimes and put safe communities at risk.”