U.S. News

U.S., New York officials declare war on deadly MS-13 street gang

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Long Island, New York, on Friday vowing to “devastate” the street gang MS-13, which is blamed for a recent surge in murders. But it’s not just a federal fight. Local authorities have also declared war on the gang.

Suffolk County Police Lt. Thomas Zagajeski says authorities found Nisa Mickens on a tree-lined street last September — murdered on the eve of her 16th birthday.

“My daughter was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Nisa’s mother Elizabeth Alvarado says.

The next day, the body of her best friend, Kayla Cuevas, was found nearby. Like Mickens, she had been beaten and slashed to death with a machete.

Investigators say the girlsĀ died at the hands of MS-13, a gang blamed for killing 17 people in the county since the start of 2016 — the latest, four young men whose bodies were discovered in a park.

“MS-13 seems to engage in violence for sport and that’s what makes them particularly dangerous,” Police Commissioner Timothy Sini says.

The gang first formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s, but a nationwide crackdown saw more than 7,000 members arrested in the past decade. Now police report a comeback, built on recruiting vulnerable children who cross the border unaccompanied, looking for a sense of family.

“We need to be weeding out those gang recruiters,” Sini says, “but we also have to make sure we have community-based programs so that we deter and prevent gang recruitment.”

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