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Cop: SUV lead to MS-13 murder cases

Leaders of the MS-13 gang Heriberto Martinez, left,

Leaders of the MS-13 gang Heriberto Martinez, left, and Carlos Ortega, right, are scheduled to go on trial in federal court in Central Islip. Credit: Handout

The cracking of five MS-13 gang murders on Long Island and in Queens began with an illegally parked sport utility vehicle in a lot at the beach in Far Rockaway, Queens, according to court testimony Tuesday by an NYPD officer.

Officer Makarios Salkey said in Federal District Court in Central Islip that he and a partner were patrolling in a squad car along Seagirt Boulevard near Beach Ninth Street after midnight in March 2010 when they noticed the SUV parked in the city lot next to the beach. The beach is supposed to be closed at dark, Salkey said under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Tierney.

Intending to a write a ticket for illegally parking, Salkey said he and his partner drove up to the vehicle and saw one man in the SUV, and three men emerging from the beach through a gap in the dunes.

Two of the men walked toward the police, but one ran back to the beach, Salkey said.

In the next few minutes, Salkey said, the officers had found the body of just slain MS-13 gang member Mario Quijada on the beach; and the driver and the two men who had been walking toward him were in handcuffs, including MS-13 leader Heriberto Martinez. The third man escaped.

Martinez, 25, of Far Rockaway, is on trial, along with MS-member Carlos Ortega, 23, of Brentwood, in connection with five killings.

Suffolk and Nassau county detectives and an FBI agent had testified that Martinez began confessing to them about connections to four of the murders when taken to the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway. Further investigation led to Ortega's role in two murders, according to trial testimony.

Salkey testified that when the police asked the two men who were coming off the beach what they were doing there, one of them told him that this was their "local weed spot . . . [They] come here to smoke weed."

Salkey said another police car arrived, and those officers watched the three men while he and his partner searched the beach for the runaway.

Almost immediately, they saw the body of Quijada on the beach, his face covered with blood, Salkey said.

Salkey said "I drew my weapon and rushed back" to the parking lot. There police handcuffed Martinez and his two gang associates.

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