Today’s news:

2 accused in slay of Flushing man

Two men, including the reputed New York leader of the ferocious MS−13 gang, were arraigned in Brooklyn federal court last 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 chapters 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.

Parker, who attended Flushing High School, had just moved back to Queens from Maryland months before he was killed after finishing trade school near Baltimore. He was an avid basketball player and aspiring hip−hop lyricist who friends who knew him as “Moe Greazy ” said was constantly practicing his musical trade.

“He missed his friends. New York was his home and he really wanted to work on his music,” said Devin Harris, who knew him in Maryland. “I’m so happy right now that I know his killer is behind bars. I think of him everyday. He was like a big brother to me and he never was a problem person. No matter what the situation was he always kept his cool.”

Though friends of Parker said they were happy that Fuentes and Chavez’s arrest may bring some form of closure to the killing, it doesn’t fill the void left by his death.

“There still hasn’t been a day that he doesn’t cross my mind. I still have his number and his messages saved in my phone. And I have his songs playing on my iPod,” said a 21−year−old who grew up with Parker, but asked not to be named. “I guess it brings some sort of justice, but the murderer is still alive, and Moe isn’t. Even if they do give him the death penalty, it won’t bring Moe back.”

Believed to have formed in the 1980s, MS−13 began in Los Angeles as refugees fled El Salvador’s bloody, decades−long civil war. The gang’s influence has grown rapidly over the last two decades, both domestically and abroad, according to authorities, and it 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@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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