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Queens MS-13 gang member gets 35 years for 2017 fatal stabbing of 16-year-old in Alley Pond Park: Feds

Feb. 9, 2024 By Bill Parry

An MS-13 gang member from Jamaica was sentenced Thursday in Brooklyn federal court to 35 years in prison for the 2017 fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old boy in Alley Pond Park in Bayside.

Luis Rivera, 28, pleaded guilty in July, and became the third MS-13 gang member to get a long prison sentence for the brutal killing of Julio “Bad Boy” Vasquez on May 16, 2017, after the teenager failed to kill his friend, thus falling out of favor with MS-13.

Rivera’s co-defendant Josue Leiva, 27, also from Jamaica, was sentenced last month to 35 years in prison. Their gang leader, Melvi Amador-Rios, 32, of Briarwood, was convicted on 17 of 18 counts by a federal jury in August following a three-week trial and sentenced in November to life in prison plus 38 years in federal prison .

“The sentencings send a powerful message to the defendants, other MS-13 members, and the community that gratuitous and senseless violence of this nature will not be tolerated in our district,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “We hope that today brings some measure of closure to the victims and their families.”

As proven during the trial of Amador-Rios, beginning in the fall of 2016, Amador-Rios was the leader of the Centrales Locos Salvatruchas (CLS) clique of MS-13, when he ordered Rivera and Leiva to kill fellow gang member Vasquez failed to carry out a hit ordered by Amador-Rios, who suspected the teen was cooperating with law enforcement.

On May 16, 2017, Vasquez was lured to a wooded area of Alley Pond Park where Leiva and Rivas stabbed him more than 30 times, nearly decapitating him before leaving him to die. Vasquez’s body was discovered by a bird watcher who smelled and saw his decomposing body on May 21, 2017. Leiva and Rivas pleaded guilty on July 14, 2023 to racketeering charges, including Vasquez’s murder.

MS-13 gang member Luis Rivera of Jamaica was sentenced Thursday in Brooklyn federal court for the fatal 2017 stabbing of a 16-year-old boy in Alley Pond Park. Photo by Mark Hallum

“Meaningful prison sentences like this are why the men and women of the NYPD, in close partnership with our colleagues at the FBI and the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, continues to aggressively pursue anyone who senselessly commits violent crimes and puts our communities at risk,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said. “We vow to remain relentless in our efforts to dismantle gangs and hold their individual members fully accountable for their actions.”

Leiva and Rivas also participated in separate armed robberies of small businesses in Jamaica, Queens.

In 2017, Rivas, accompanied by Amador-Rios and other gang members, robbed at gunpoint a money transfer business, during which Rivas pistol whipped an employee in the face.

In 2018, Leiva, accompanied by Amador-Rios and other gang members, committed a robbery involving holding the owner and a customer of a convenience store at gunpoint.

“There is no place in our communities for barbaric violence being used to threaten and intimidate,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith said. “Luis Rivas and Josue Leiva were rightly sentenced for their roles in a senseless murder and other callously violent actions in the name of MS-13. The FBI’s New York Safe Streets Task Force is determined to ensure members of MS-13 or any other gang using violence in an attempt to control territory and people face significant punishment in the criminal justice system.”

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

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