Law Enforcement Takes Down 96 MS-13 Members in Largest Ever Bust of Its Kind
A massive multi-agency law enforcement operation has resulted in what may be the largest ever takedown of an MS-13 syndicate on U.S. soil, New York prosecutors announced Friday afternoon.
According to ABC News, 96 of the violent Salvadoran street gang’s New York members and associates have been indicted on 77 counts including illegal weapons sales and possession, and conspiracy to commit murder.
Law enforcement sources have told reporters this historic special grand jury indictment and resulting arrests — the product of a nearly two-year federal wiretapping investigation — are likely to make the gang’s infamously violent Long Island outfit “inoperable.”
“The goal of this investigation was to deliver a major blow to the gang’s leadership, operations and recruitment in our region,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a Friday news conference. “We did exactly that.”
“MS-13 is a ruthless, savage gang that commits acts of violence to recruit, retain and control its members and exact revenge on its rivals as well as to extort innocent members in our community,” Sini said.
“Our message is simple, law enforcement will do what it takes to protect our communities,” Sini continued. “And to MS-13, we are coming for you.”
The 96 defendants — primarily arrested Thursday and Friday morning, according to the New York Post — ranged in age from 16 to 59 and included both U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants.
Outside of Suffolk County, cooperating officials are said to have arrested more than 200 more MS-13 affiliated individuals across the U.S. and in the gang’s home base of El Salvador.
Sini also told reporters that the investigation had foiled as many as seven alleged murder plots in Suffolk County, turning up substantial amounts of cocaine and the deadlier opioid fentanyl, as well as handguns, long guns, machetes and $200,000 in cash.
The machetes in particular, however, were emblematic of the gang’s often “savage” modus operandi, the district attorney added.
Similar appeals have been made in recent years by President Donald Trump, who has on numerous occasions emphasized MS-13’s cruel and unusual criminal behavior in public calls for Congress, and the American people, to provide him a stronger mandate with which to increase security measures along the southern border.
Trump calls MS-13 members “animals,” says: “They come in on Long Island. We send ICE, & they get in there and they get them out, and it’s like we are liberating a town. In this day and age. It’s like a foreign invader finally is being taken out…They cut people up.” pic.twitter.com/Wd1pn4dG20
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 7, 2018
“They kidnap, they extort, they rape and they rob. They prey on children,” Trump said of the gang at a Suffolk County rally in 2017, according to ABC. “They shouldn’t be here.”
“It’s time for every member of MS-13 to be in fear. Look over their shoulder. Look in their rearview mirror,” the president continued, “because ICE and its partners are coming hard, and we’re coming strong.”
MS-13’s influence on Long Island has been strong for many years now, with law enforcement estimates regarding the gang’s membership in the area varying dramatically from hundreds to thousands, according to the New York Post
Unquestionable, however, is the gang’s impact on the region.
It was the gang’s involvement in the brutal 2016 murders of 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas and 15-year-old Nisa Mickens that first publicly galvanized then-candidate Trump and other Republican leaders against MS-13.
Cuevas and Mickens were attacked by several of the gang’s youth members on the way to basketball practice, CBS News reported.
Both died of cutting injuries and blunt force trauma to the head in what then-Suffolk County police commissioner Sini called an “unmatched” showing of “brutality.”
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