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‘Extremely dangerous’ MS-13 gang leader convicted of ordering killing of teen in Alley Pond Park: Feds

Aug. 9, 2023 By Bill Parry

An MS-13 gang leader from Queens was convicted by a Brooklyn federal jury on Wednesday, Aug. 9, for ordering the brutal murder of a 16-year-old boy inside Bayside’s Alley Pond Park in 2017.

Melvi Amador-Rios, 32, of Briarwood was found guilty on 17 of the 18 counts of a third superseding indictment following a three-week-long trial.

MS-13 gang leader Melvi Amador-Rios was convicted of ordering the killing of a 16-year-old gang banger in Bayside’s Alley Pond Park in 2017.Courtesy of EDNY

Amador-Rios was convicted of murder in aid of racketeering, which carries a mandatory life sentence, and other crimes for ordering two fellow members of his Jamaica-based Centrales Locos Salvatruchas clique of the transnational criminal organization to kill gang member Julio “Bad Boy” Vasquez on May 16, 2017, after the teenager failed to kill his friend, thus falling out of favor with MS-13. Amador-Rios, known on the streets as “Letal” and “Pinky,” suspected he was cooperating with law enforcement, according to federal prosecutors.

A crude variation of an MS-13 symbol could be seen in front of the family home where Julio Vasquez lived on 166th Street in St. Albans, just days after his butchered and decomposing body was discovered inside Alley Pond Park in Bayside. Photo by Mark Hallum

Vasquez was lured to a wooded area of Alley Pond Park where co-conspirators Josue “Colocho” Leiva and Luis “Inquito” Rivas stabbed him more than 30 times and nearly decapitated him before leaving him to die. He was discovered on May 21 of 2017 by an unsuspecting bird watcher who smelled and saw a decomposing body.

Amador-Rios was also convicted of ordering a non-fatal shooting that left another 16-year-old, Louis Serrano of Jamaica, paralyzed.

Crime scene investigators collect evidence in Alley Pond Park after a 16-year-old boy was found dead by a bird watcher. Photo by Mark Hallum

“With today’s verdict, an extremely dangerous MS-13 gang leader aptly nicknamed ‘Letal,’ or ‘Lethal,’ has been brought to justice for his murderous racketeering crimes and now faces a mandatory life sentence,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “The outstanding work of our prosecutors, along with members of the FBI and the NYPD, underscores this office’s continuing efforts to make our communities safer by dismantling violent gangs.”

Amador-Rios ordered three associates to kill Serrano, a member of the rival 18th Street gang, during the early morning hours of Oct. 23, 2016. The hit team confronted Serrano at 179th Street and 90th Avenue in Jamaica Hills, where he was beaten and shot in the head. One of the accomplices went to shoot him a second time as he lay on the ground but the handgun malfunctioned. Following the arrests of his associates, Amador-Rios informed them on a prison call that “you guys already have a pass, you know, to be homeboys, you know,” indicating that they would be promoted in the gang for committing the attempted murder, prosecutors said.

“Today’s guilty verdict is the next step toward delivering justice for the victims of this violent criminal,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said. “The NYPD, in close collaboration with our law enforcement partners at the FBI and the Eastern District of New York, will continue to conduct aggressive, precisely-directed investigations like this that stanch the violence – an essential step toward healing gang-plagued communities and fulfilling our duty to protect all New Yorkers in every neighborhood.”

During the course of the trial, the jury heard evidence other MS-13 gang members including the brother of Amador-Rios, who was also found guilty of participating in the armed robbery of a money transfer business in which an employee was pistol-whipped, three armed robberies of convenience stores all in Jamaica, as well as related firearms offenses.

“With the guilty verdict today, Amador-Rios has rightly been found responsible for these senseless and heinous violent crimes carried out by MS-13 in Queens,” FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Christie Curtis said. “MS-13 relies on violence and fear for control, but the verdict serves as a reminder that their actions will not be tolerated. The FBI New York Safe Streets Task Force remains steadfast in our efforts to remove the threat of this violent and dangerous gang from our communities.”

Leiva and Rivas pleaded guilty last month to racketeering charges, including Vasquez’s murder. They are awaiting sentencing. The three assailants in the attack on Serrano have each pleaded guilty to assault and attempted murder and are awaiting sentencing.

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