A male whose body was found on Long Island may have been an MS-13 gang member killed as part of an internal battle, a senior law enforcement source said, and hours later police announced an arrest in the slaying.
Detectives acting on a tip found the remains in a shallow grave "deep in the bramble" just east of the Meadowbrook Parkway in East Meadow, Nassau County police said.
Police said the person they were searching for could have been a victim of the MS-13 gang.
A senior law enforcement source said the male found was in his 20s and may have actually been a gang member.
Nassau County police, however, said the male appeared to be in his late teens and was killed in the location over a year ago. DNA testing will determine his identity.
Late Wednesday, police said they arrested 21-year-old Carlos Benitez-Hernandez, of Uniondale, and charged him with second-degree murder in connection with the case. He will be arraigned on Thursday. It wasn't clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
Homeland Security and Nassau County police are investigating.
East Meadow resident Dawn Cudahy, who works in a building across the street, said she and her co-workers found it tough to believe there may have been gang activity so close to her.
"It's concerning, especially working near here. People live here. It's worrisome," she said.
The MS-13 gang has been blamed for at least 25 killings since January 2016 across a wide swath of Long Island.
The violence, including the 2016 slayings of two teenage girls in Brentwood, led to congressional hearings and visits to Long Island from both Republican President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Earlier this month, an MS-13 member pleaded guilty to participating in the brutal massacre of four young men.
Josue Portillo, 17, admitted to planning the April 2017 killings with other MS-13 defendants because he said they believed the four were rival gang members, prosecutors said. The victims were lured to a park and attacked with machetes, knives and clubs.