The Nassau County Police homicide squad at the crime scene Wednesday....

The Nassau County Police homicide squad at the crime scene Wednesday.   Credit: Jim Staubitser

The man slain in a suspected MS-13 machete attack in East Meadow was a gang member targeted for death because he was an informant who had cooperated with authorities, according to three law enforcement sources.

Nassau police on Friday identified the August 2017 slaying victim as MS-13 gang member Carlos Rivas-Majano, 22, of Uniondale.

Police said the motive behind the Aug. 13, 2017 killing is still under investigation, and referred to remarks Thursday from homicide squad commander Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick.

The victim’s killing likely related to “the gang’s displeasure with his actions within the group or something that they felt was disrespectful to them or a threat to them,” he said.

Police wouldn’t comment further on the case Friday.

“This is still an active investigation. We are not going to give any additional details at this time,” said Det. Vincent Garcia, a Nassau police spokesman.

Rivas-Majano’s family members could not be reached for comment Friday.

Carlos Benitez-Hernandez of Uniondale, who was charged with the killing of a teenager last year whose remains were discovered Wednesday buried in East Meadow, is walked to a police car outside the Nassau County Police Department on Thursday ahead of his arraignment.  Credit: Newsday

Acting on a tip, investigators recovered Rivas-Majano’s remains Wednesday in a shallow grave in the woods south of Glenn Curtiss Boulevard near Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Rivas-Majano was lured to the location before he was “viciously and barbarically” attacked there by at least five MS-13 gang members, according to authorities.

One person is facing a murder charge in the homicide case. Police also have said four other alleged suspects in the slaying – whom they have yet to identify publicly – are in federal or county custody.

Court records show Hempstead police in May 2015 arrested Carlos Rivas-Majano, 19, of Uniondale, on multiple weapon charges – including two felonies – after allegedly finding him on Fulton Avenue with a loaded semiautomatic gun in his waistband. Police noted on his arrest paperwork that he was "not a legal citizen of the United States."

But in March 2016, that defendant got a deal in which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of stolen property and got a sentence of jail time served in a court proceeding that was sealed. A judge also sealed the transcript of the proceeding, records show.

On Thursday, Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, 21, of Uniondale, pleaded not guilty in a Hempstead district court arraignment to second-degree murder in Rivas-Majano’s death and was ordered held without bail.

Police said Benitez-Hernandez is a “self-admitted MS-13 member,” is from El Salvador and was in federal custody on an immigration detainer at the time of his arrest.

Court records show authorities arrested Benitez-Hernandez on Tuesday morning, before the recovery of the victim’s remains.

The discovery of Rivas-Majano’s body was made as part of a probe by Nassau authorities, the federal Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Authorities had said they would use DNA testing to uncover the identity of the human remains buried about a foot and a half deep in the ground.

Benitez-Hernandez had just been paroled before the homicide in East Meadow, and has “a violent criminal history, with weapons, gang assault and intimidating a victim” in his background, Fitzpatrick has said.

Since 2016, there have been 10 homicides attributed to MS-13 in Nassau County, including six cases in which the victims were buried, according to police.

With Antonio Planas

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