Second suspect arrested in alleged MS-13 killing in East Meadow, police said


Police arrested a second suspect in the alleged MS-13 slaying of Carlos Rivas-Majano, 22, of Uniondale, who was found in a shallow grave off Glenn Curtiss Boulevard in East Meadow on Aug. 29.

Jose Quintanilla Cruz, 23, of Hempstead, was charged with second-degree murder for the August 2017 murder of Rivas-Majano and was arraigned at the Nassau County First District Court on Sept. 27, according to police. Information on his attorney had not immediately been made available.

Less than 24 hours after the body was found in a wooded area behind Kellenberg High School, police arrested Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, 21, of Uniondale. The suspect has a violent criminal history, is a self-admitted MS-13 member and was already in custody at the time of his arrest, said Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick. Benitez-Hernandez also faces charges of second-degree murder.

Nassau County police received a tip on Aug. 28 to search the area near Glenn Curtiss Boulevard for the grave of someone who might have been killed by MS-13, according to Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. Officials began investigating with members of the federal Department of Homeland Security and Drug Enforcement Agency, and returned the following morning with representatives of the Nassau County district attorney’s office and emergency services.

After digging through what Ryder called “dense bramble,” officials uncovered Rivas-Majano’s remains in a grave about one and a half feet deep. Police are speculating that the killing followed the pattern of the other MS-13 murders on Long Island, in which gang members lure the victim into a wooded area before hacking him to death with machetes and other sharp instruments.

According to Fitzpatrick, the victim was most likely murdered because of his attempts to work against the gang. He was lured into the woods before the attack, Fitzpatrick added, because he still had ties to the gang and “felt comfortable with them.”

Quintanilla Cruz is affiliated with the Downtown Criminals MS-13 clique that operates out of the Hempstead area. It is unknown how many other members of the gang were involved in Rivas-Majano’s murder.

This was the sixth time in the past year that police discovered a victim allegedly killed by the El Salvadoran gang MS-13. Victims were also found in the woods between Freeport and Merrick, in Freeport and in Massapequa.

“We have a multi-pronged approach to attacking [MS-13],” Fitzpatrick said, adding that their activity has slowed down since the police began making arrests. “I think we are on the offensive and they are on the run.”