A man who was set to testify against members of the brutal Salvadoran MS-13 gang was found beaten to death in New York last week.
“Police identified the victim as Wilmer Maldonado Rodriguez, 36, a former New Cassel resident who was homeless at the time of his death,” according to Newsday. “Authorities said Rodriguez, who was severely beaten and stabbed by alleged MS-13 gang members in October 2018, was slated to testify against his alleged attackers.”
During the 2018 incident, Maldonado Rodriguez intervened on behalf of two boys who were in an altercation with several gang members.
His body was found Wednesday outside an abandoned home.
“This courageous man was prepared to testify against his alleged assailants at an upcoming trial, but he was brutally beaten to death before he could,” Nassau County, NY District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement.
“This case underscores the importance of safeguarding the identities of witnesses and victims of crime and our hearts are with Mr. Maldonado’s family and friends as we grieve his loss,” she continued.
Nassau County, which encompasses Long Island, is a known hotbed for the Central American gang. MS-13’s infamous slogan is “Kill, Rape, Control.”
It remains unclear how Maldonado Rodriguez’s identity was discovered by his killers.
He was under a protective order, but the judge in the case ordered the prosecution to turn over case filed to two defense attorneys during pre-trial discovery so they could prepare their defense. Both attorneys reportedly deny leaking the Maldonado Rodriguez’s information.
According to Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, Maldonado Rodriguez had been intimidated by suspected MS-13 members before he was killed. He was assaulted and another person was shot. Both acts of violence occurred after his information was turned over to the defense attorneys.
No arrests have been made in connection to his death.
Due to the violent nature of the gang, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) often issues press releases when members of MS-13 are caught attempting to cross into the United States illegally.
Last month, CBP agents in the Rio Grande Valley reported arresting at least two MS-13 members.
According to the FBI’s 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment, there were an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 MS-13 members living in the United States, a number that is likely much higher more than a decade later.