Nearly 100 members of the notorious MS-13 gang were arrested and criminally charged by the New York Police Department on Long Island. The announcement came just before Christmas.
As a result of a two-year investigation, it resulted in the “biggest takedown of a street gan in New York state,” according to Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini.
Among the charges the gang members are facing include murder, murder conspiracy, drug trafficking, weapons possession and gang violence.
“MS-13 is a ruthless, savage gang which commits acts of violence to recruit, retain and control its members and exact revenge on its rivals, as well as to extort innocent members of our community,” Sini said in a news release. “They send portions of that money back to the leadership in their home base of El Salvador. Leaders in El Salvador run the gang by issuing orders to the local cliques here in Suffolk County.”
“The goal of this investigation was to deliver a major blow to the gang’s leadership, operations and recruitment in our region,” Sini added. “This operation helped end the New York program, which was orchestrated by the leadership of MS-13 in El Salvador to develop a greater presence here on Long Island.”
Worldwide, 230 gang members were arrested and at least seven murder plots were interrupted, Sini said.
Nine leaders of Suffolk County cliques, or factions of the gang, were arrested, Sini said. Seized were more than 10 kilograms of cocaine, more than 1,000 fentanyl pills, unspecified amounts of heroin and marijuana, nine handguns, two long guns, numerous machetes and more than $200,000 cash.
President Donald Trump chimed in on the arrests tweeting, “We are getting MS-13 gang members, and many other people that shouldn’t be here, out of our Country!”
We are getting MS-13 gang members, and many other people that shouldn’t be here, out of our Country! https://t.co/Cfk4iIBVTQ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2019
St. Louis Today added that more than 200 wiretaps were used in the investigation.
MS-13, known as Mara Salvatrucha, originated decades ago among Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles and has since built a criminal network that extends across the US, with thriving pockets in the Washington, DC, suburbs and on Long Island.
The gang is known for extreme violence and sometimes uses machetes in killings and assaults, Sini said. Holding up a machete at the news conference, he said, “This depicts how brutal and savage this group is.”
Ray Donovan, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York office, said MS-13 had 8,000-10,000 members in the US and Europe and 50,000 members in Central America.
The use of more than 200 wiretaps authorized by Suffolk County courts helped locate suspects around the world, he said.
“For over two years, a wiretap investigation provided critical insight into MS-13’s goals of recruitment, expansion, brutality, violence and rule,” Donovan said in a news release. “This tool resulted in hundreds of MS-13 related arrests in New York, El Salvador and Baltimore; thwarted murders, robberies, beatings; and helped locate three murder victims’ remains.”
Members from the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New York State Police, the Suffolk County Police Department, and several others were all involved in the investigation.
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