MS-13 gang member who butchered teen in Queens park gets 35 years

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An MS-13 member who butchered a Queens teenager with a machete to get a gang promotion was sentenced to 35 years behind bars Tuesday.

Josue “Colocho” Leiva, 27, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court to the 16-year-old Julio Vasquez’s murder and near decapitation last year — a week before his boss in the bloodthirsty gang went to trial.

“He wanted to become a full-fledged member, to become a ‘homeboy,’ and he knew what that entailed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Moore said at Leiva’s sentencing Tuesday. “And when the opportunity presented himself to kill…. he acted on it.”

Like Leiva, the young victim was also a low-level “chequeo” in MS-13’s Centrales Locos Salvatruchas, or CLS, clique of MS-13, which operated mainly in Jamaica, Queens.

But Vasquez and he had fallen out of favor with the clique’s boss, Melvi “Letal” Amador-Rios, who suspected him of cooperating with authorities.

Amador-Rios gave Vasquez an ultimatum to prove his loyalty — kill another teen who was on the outs with the gang or die.

Vasquez couldn’t go through with it, and on May 16, 2017 he was lured to Alley Pond Park, where Leiva and Luis “Inquieto” Rivas, 28, stabbed him 28 times in the back and six times in the chest. Rivas, who has also pleaded guilty, will be sentenced next month.

“During the violent attack, Vasquez pleaded and told them they were wrong about his suspected cooperation. Unmoved, Leiva and Rivas stabbed Vasquez to death,” federal prosecutors wrote to Judge Rachel Kovner last week.

“The defendant stabbed him over and over and over again, while Julio Vasquez pleaded for his life,” Moore told the judge Tuesday. “And then they left him to rot, and they left his mother and his family members to wonder what had happened.”

Leiva repeatedly boasted about the murder, bragging to Amador-Rios’ brother about how the teen defecated on himself after he swung the blade 20 times, prosecutors wrote.

His brutality earned him a promotion to the rank of “homeboy.”

Leiva and Rivas agreed to 35-year sentences as part of their plea deals.

“I’m sorry for wasting everybody’s time here,” he told Kovner before she handed down the sentence Tuesday. “I can’t say nothing that will fix what happened, but I do understand that it was wrong. Honestly, I feel bad for my family and for everybody.”

Amador-Rios, 33, was found guilty in August of several violent crimes, including Vasquez’s murder, the near-fatal shooting in 2016 of Luis Serrano, also 16, and several armed robberies.

His conviction came after a two-week trial that included testimony from Serrano, who was shot in the face and paralyzed by the attack. Several turncoat MS-13 members testified against him, including Amador-Rios’ brother, who said he had “first word” in the gang, meaning he approved all murders, including killing Vasquez.

He received a mandatory life sentence in November.