MS-13 member pleads guilty to gruesome Boston-area playground murder: prosecutors

A 17-year-old boy was stabbed dozens of times and left to die by a playground in Lynn, Mass. in July 2018

An MS-13 gang member from El Salvador pleaded guilty last week to murdering a 17-year-old three years ago at a playground in a community about 13 miles north of Boston, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a statement Tuesday.

Eliseo Vaquerano Canas, a 21-year-old national of El Salvador nicknamed "Peligroso," the Spanish word meaning dangerous, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, which is more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for June 18, 2021.

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As part of his guilty plea, Vaquerano Canas admitted that his racketeering activity involved participating in the July 30, 2018, murder of 17-year-old Herson Rivas in Lynn, Mass., while a member of the MS-13 gang, prosecutors said. Rivas was stabbed dozens of times in the head, neck, torso, and extremities in a wooded area near Henry Avenue Playground, the Boston Globe reported, citing court documents.

MS-13 is a transnational street gang operating in Massachusetts and numerous other states, as well as countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to the district attorney’s office. MS-13 members follow certain core rules and principles, including that members attack and attempt to kill members of rival gangs, and members do not act as informants or cooperate with law enforcement.

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"Cliques" or smaller groups that operate under the larger mantle of MS-13. Vaquerano Canas was a member of the Sykos Locos Salvatrucha clique of MS-13. Court documents showed that Vaquerano Canas had "homeboy" status in MS-13, which is generally achieved by committing a significant act of violence.

Vaquerano Canas faces a sentence of up to life in prison, prosecutors said. He will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his sentence. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

In this 2014 file photo, MS-13 gang graffiti is seen next to the door of the Jose Ramon Montoya school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

In this 2014 file photo, MS-13 gang graffiti is seen next to the door of the Jose Ramon Montoya school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (AP)

U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, as well as Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; William S. Walker, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Christopher Mason, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Acting Boston Police Commissioner Gregory Long; and Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary made the announcement.

Vaquerano Canas is one of five men charged in connection to Rivas' slaying, the Globe reported. 

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"The remaining defendants in this case are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law," the district attorney’s office said.

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