Melvi “Letal” Amador-Rios, the leader of the Centrales Locos Salvatruchas (CLS) clique of the MS-13 gang in Queens, New York, has been sentenced to life in prison. Amador-Rios, 32, was found guilty in August of ordering the brutal murder of 16-year-old Julio “Bad Boy” Vasquez in 2017, as well as the near-fatal shooting of Luis Serrano, also 16, in 2016. He was also involved in several armed robberies.
Vasquez, a low-level member of the CLS clique, was lured to Alley Pond Park where he was stabbed multiple times by two other gang members. Serrano, who was shot in the face, survived but was left paralyzed. The motive behind Vasquez’s murder was his suspected cooperation with the police.
During the sentencing hearing, Vasquez’s mother, Bertha Palaguachi, expressed her desire for justice, stating that she hoped the perpetrators would “rot in jail.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Karamigios read Palaguachi’s statement, highlighting the pain and loss caused by her son’s brutal death.
Amador-Rios, known for recruiting vulnerable teenagers to commit violent acts, was found guilty after a two-week trial where fellow MS-13 members testified against him. His brother, Santos Amador-Rios, also testified, expressing his love for the defendant but acknowledging that he could not condone his actions.