MS-13 Trial of Alleged Boss Set to Reveal ‘Inner Workings’ of Gang: Prosecutor.

The racketeering trial of an alleged MS-13 leader who ordered the near-decapitation slaying of suspected snitch will delve into the mechanics of the notorious street gang whose reign of terror stretches from Central America to Texas, Maryland and New York City, a federal prosecutor said Monday.

Melvie Amador-Rios, the alleged leader – or “corredor” – of a clique known as the Centrales Locos Salvatruchas based in the Jamaica Queens, New York, faces life in prison for murder, attempted murder, robbery and other crimes at the Brooklyn federal court trial.

In a hit Amador-Rios allegedly ordered, two MS-13 members knifed a suspected police cooperator to death in Alley Pond Park in Queens in a brutal slaying that left the 16-year-old victim nearly decapitated.

In her opening statement Monday, prosecutor Rafaella Belizaire told jurors they would hear “a lot about the inner workings” of the gang, which she described as a “transnational criminal organization.”

Cliques of the street gang, which was started in Los Angeles and spread back to Central America, are guided by two major tenets, Belizaire said: kill or attack rival gangsters whenever possible—and do not cooperate with law enforcement. 

Witnesses who took the stand Monday told jurors their experiences as both victims and willing participants in the MS-13 clique allegedly headed by Amador-Rios, who was known as “Letal” and “Pinky.” 

The second witness to take the stand, 22-year-old Luis Serrano, used a motorized wheelchair he navigated with the touch of a finger to enter the well of the courtroom near the witness box. 

Serrano told jurors through a Spanish interpreter that he befriended two members of the rival 18th Street gang in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, allegedly causing Amador-Rios’s clique to begin gunning for him. 

In October 2016, three MS-13 members jumped him on 179th Street in the neighborhood and one shot him in the face, Serrano said. He survived the assault, but is now a paraplegic and needed a nine-month hospital stay and four surgeries to recover from the near-fatal encounter. 

After Serrano’s testimony, a former member of Centrales Locos who is in prison for attempted murder took the stand and identified Amador-Rios as the leader of the clique. 

Jose Gonzalez Rivera told jurors he faces “certain death” for cooperating with prosecutors and testifying against his former boss at the trial. 

He described how the gang is spread across US states including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Texas through autonomous cliques that share information with leadership in El Salvador.

Gonzalez Rivera told jurors he was jumped in for 13 seconds at a park in Queens that had a “wooded area.” Jurors were shown photos of Gonzalez Rivera’s bruised and scratched back from the beating. 

After he was initiated, the newly certified gang member chose a nickname that was relayed to gang leaders in El Salvador, he said.

Each member has to choose a unique name that is not shared by anyone else in the gang, Gonzalez Rivera said. 

“It’s so that later on if they have to kill one person, they kill the right person,” he said. 

In his opening statement, Amador-Rios’s attorney suggested his client’s brother, who may be called to testify in the case, may actually have been the shot caller of the clique.

The attorney, Murray Singer, did not deny the crimes the gang carried out, but said he disagrees with prosecutors that his client ordered they be done. 

“The crimes are horrible. The crimes all happened,” Singer said. 

“The defense’s position is that he didn’t do these things. He wasn’t involved.”