Near midnight on March 17, 2010, Mario Alberto Canton Quijada—known as “Baby Blue”—sat in the back seat of a Ford Explorer as his fellow gang members drove it down to the beach in Far Rockaway, Queens. In the car with Quijada were Carlos “Silencio” Ortega, 22 at the time, and three other members of MS-13, the brutal Central American gang that in recent years has established an extensive presence in formerly quiet suburban areas such as Long Island. Police trying to investigate the gang have repeatedly run up against a wall of silence, but they are fighting back: in recent months more than 40 alleged MS-13 members from Long Island have been indicted in New York courts on a range of charges that include racketeering, murder (attempted and accomplished), assaults with dangerous weapons, and conspiracy. No one can know exactly what Quijada thought was coming that night in 2010, but as a member of Surenos Locos Salvatruchas, the Queens-based clique of MS-13, he knew the rules, even if he didn’t want to abide by them. The peaceful, empty span of beach cannot have been a comforting sight. According to documents provided to The Daily Beast by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Ortega and the three others walked Quijada down toward the water. Someone pointed a .22-caliber pistol at his head and pulled the trigger, but it jammed, so out came a machete and knives. MS-13 likes the machete because it is heavy and sharp, and merely owning one won’t get you arrested in New York. According to the documents, Ortega and the men he was with drove the machete with such force into Quijada’s skull that it stuck in his eye socket. The murder was a good example of the way MS-13 treats its friends. Engaging in violence, particularly against those thought to have betrayed the gang, is the surest way to jockey for promotion, according to court papers filed by an FBI special agent in Ortega’s case, and the pattern shows itself again and again in the gang’s conduct on Long Island. Quijada’s own crime, by the brutal law of MS-13’s land, was that he refused to commit one. In particular, other members had complained that he wasn’t violent enough toward other gangs, that he didn’t jump to draw blood, according to the documents.
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