3 charged with two '04 LI gang killings

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Three men were arraigned Tuesday in the 2004 Long Island killings of two rival gang members whose bodies were dumped in Queens, federal authorities announced.

The two-count indictment, unsealed Tuesday, charges Netas gang members Jason Cabral, 34, his brother Alvaro, 26, and Luis Benitez, 33, in the shootings of Latin Kings members Anthony Marcano and Fabian Mestres, both 17.

The Cabral brothers, arrested in Florida, and Benitez, of Ronkonkoma, were held after entering not-guilty pleas to two counts of firearms-related murders, said the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.

Netas was a violent gang, authorities said, and on Aug. 10, 2004, members of its Central Islip chapter met to discuss retaliation against their rivals.

Led by Jason Cabral, they hatched a plan to rob Marcano, who distributed cocaine and marijuana in the Central Islip area, prosecutors said.

The suspects lured Marcano to a Brentwood house, prosecutors said. Marcano brought along Mestres, a fellow "Pee Wee" Latin Kings member, and inside, the two were bound, prosecutors said.

The three stole the teenagers' drugs, money and jewelry, then stuffed them into the trunk of a car, prosecutors said.

Benitez, with help from Alvaro Cabral, shot Marcano in the head and neck, prosecutors said. He shot Mestres in the head, they said.

A source close to the investigation said the two teens were shot on Long Island. Their bodies were found the next day behind a Queens warehouse, authorities said, wiped down to remove fingerprints and DNA evidence.

Jason Cabral, also known as "J-Live," and Alvaro Cabral, also known as "Boobie," were arrested in Tampa and were transferred to the custody of local authorities. The source close to the investigation said the brothers lived in Central Islip at the time of the shootings.

The brothers and Benitez, also known as "Lae," are to appear before U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip on June 8. If convicted on each count, each man faces up to life imprisonment or possibly the death penalty.

With Robert E. Kessler

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