Five suspects plead not guilty in alleged MS-13 murder in East Meadow


Five alleged MS-13 members appeared in court this week as suspects in the August 2017 slaying of Carlos Rivas-Majano, 22, of Uniondale, who was found in a shallow grave off Glenn Curtiss Boulevard in East Meadow one year after his death. All pleaded not guilty and are being held in jail without bail, according to court records.

Police arrested Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, 21, of Uniondale, less than 24 hours after the body was found in a wooded area behind Kellenberg High School on Aug. 29. Amid the arrest, Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick announced that Benitez-Hernandez has a violent criminal history, is a self-admitted MS-13 member and was already in custody when police connected him to the murder.

Rivas-Majano was most likely murdered because of his attempts to work against the gang as an informant, said Fitzpatrick, adding that the victim was lured into the woods before the attack because he still had ties to the gang and “felt comfortable with them.”

Almost a month after Benitez-Hernandez was arrested, Jose Quintanilla Cruz, 23, of Hempstead, become another suspect and police said that they were looking to arrest multiple MS-13 members who were involved in the crime.

On Nov. 16, a grand jury indicted defendants Jose Quintanilla Cruz, 23, of Hempstead, Edar Ventura, 21, of Hempstead, Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, 21, of Uniondale, William Reyes-Fuentes, 23, of Uniondale, and Nerlin Chacon-Ruano, 20, of Hempstead. Throughout the week, they appeared at separate arraignments and pleaded not guilty through a Spanish interpreter to Justice William O’Brien in the Nassau County Supreme Court. O’Brien remanded the five to jail without bail.

More as this story develops.