BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11) — An MS-13 gang leader was convicted of ordering a hit on two New York City teens, one who was brutally stabbed to death and the other left paralyzed after being shot in the head, authorities said Wednesday.
After a three-week trial, a jury found Melvi Amador-Rios guilty of murder and racketeering in connection to the incidents, prosecutors said. He was also convicted for his role in a string of robberies in Queens.
The jury began deliberations Tuesday.
“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 in a statement.
Prosecutors said Amador-Rios ordered his crew to attack Julio Vasquez, 16. The teen was lured to Alley Pond Park in Queens where he was viciously stabbed about two dozen times in May 2017.
Josue “Colocho” Leiva, 26, and Luis “Inquieto” Rivas, 28, slashed the teen in the torso, spine, and neck, leaving him almost decapitated, authorities said. Leiva and Rivas pleaded guilty to their roles in the attack, according to court records.
A bird watcher found his body covered in maggots and blowflies in the woods a few days later, authorities said.
Amador-Rios ordered the hit on Vasquez because the victim had failed to complete a gang order to kill someone. The defendant also suspected the teen was a snitch working for the cops, according to prosecutors.
“They tried to remove his neck,” Assitant U.S. Attorney Nadia Moore said Monday.
Amador-Rios also wanted gang members to kill Luis Serrano, now 22, because he thought the then-teen was a member of the rival 18th Street gang, authorities said. Prosecutors said a few members of MS-13 jumped Serrano in Queens back in 2016.
Jose Gonzalez testified Amador-Rios told him to kill Serrano, prosecutors said.
Serrano was in the hospital for seven months and has several spinal surgeries. He testified that he still has pain 24/7.
“He (the defendant) was good at keeping his hands clean,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Karamigios said during closing arguments Monday.
Authorities said Amador-Rios participated in three armed robberies of stores in Jamaica, Queens in 2018. One of the store owners was pistol-whipped in the incident, officials said.
The defendant’s brother, Santos Amador-Rios, was part of the robbery crew and testified about the defendant’s role in the crimes.
“I love him a lot, you know, but faith has put us here. It isn’t like I want to do what I am doing right now, but I cannot rot in jail. He knows that and I know that I love him a lot, but there’s nothing that I can do,” Santos Amador-Rios said, according to court documents.
Amador-Rios is facing life in prison when he is sentenced.