Two men, including the reputed New York leader of the ferocious MS-13 gang, were arraigned in Brooklyn federal court Thursday in the murder of Flushing-native Maurice Parker, who was gunned down while talking on his cell phone in front of a Bowne Street convenience store nearly two years ago, authorities said.
The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District said Oscar “Taz” Fuentes, the accused frontman for the New York chapter of El Salvadorian gang Mara-Salvatrucha 13, and suspected soldier Oscar “Flecha” Chavez were allegedly “looking to commit a drive-by shooting” on May 18, 2007 when they spotted Parker standing outside El Boom Convenience Store at 41-80 Bowne St. shortly after midnight.
U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said Fuentes and Chavez jumped out of the car, ran up to Parker and Chavez allegedly shot him several times, killing him.
“MS-13 relishes violence and preys on our youth,” Campbell said. “On a night when gang members decided to go hunting for a victim on the streets of Queens, Maurice Parker was murdered simply for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. These gangs have no place in our communities, and we and our partners in law enforcement will not rest until they are eliminated.”
Parker’s murder sent a shock wave through the Flushing community, drawing hundreds to a rally to protest gang violence in the days following his death. The 21-year-old’s memory was honored last year in the Maurice Parker Memorial Classic basketball tournament, which was held on the anniversary of his death at PS 20.
Believed to have formed in the 1980s, MS-13 began in Los Angeles as refugees fled El Salvador’s bloody, decades-long civil war. Its influence has grown rapidly over the last two decades, both domestically and abroad, according to authorities, and the gang has built a reputation as a powerful and ruthless crime conglomerate.
Although police did not initially believe the murder was gang-related, many from the community maintained that MS-13 had an involvement in the shooting.
Fuentes and Chavez could face the death penalty if convicted and if it is approved by the Department of Justice, authorities said.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@
©2009 Community News Group
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