Will Racke, DCNF
President Donald Trump embraces Evelyn Rodriguez (C), whose daughter was killed by MS-13 gang members(Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Federal authorities have hit two dozen MS-13 gang members with new racketeering charges in connection with a series of murders and other violent crimes on Long Island.
In a superseding indictment unsealed Thursday in New York federal court, prosecutors added eight defendants and three murders to an ongoing federal investigation of the notorious gang. The fresh charges raise the total number of murder charges in the case to 15.
The majority of the new charges pertain to crimes allegedly committed by members of the so-called Sailors Locos Salvatruchas Westside in 2016. Among other offenses, the newly added defendants are alleged to have beaten to death 34-year-old Dewann Stacks in a random act of gang violence in Brentwood, New York. They have also been charged with the murder of two rival gang members in the same town.
“The charges in this indictment further demonstrate the utter brutality of the MS-13 and the havoc the gang inflicts on our communities,” U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue said in a statement. “This office and our law enforcement partners will continue to combat the MS-13’s violence with relentless perseverance until the gang is dismantled and its members are brought to justice.”
MS-13 has been blamed for a vicious killing spree across Long Island over the past two years. The gang was linked to 11 murders in the Suffolk County hamlets of Brentwood and Central Islip, where gang members allegedly hacked and beat to death teenagers as young as 15 years old. In neighboring Nassau County, MS-13 has committed four murder since May 2017, county police told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Trump administration has made cracking down on MS-13 a priority in its broader approach to immigration and law enforcement. In October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions designated the gang as a target for Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, a federal initiative that is typically used for long-term investigation of major criminal organizations such as Mexican drug cartels.
“The day that I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump ordered me to focus on dismantling transnational criminal organizations like MS-13, which is based in El Salvador,” Sessions said in a statement Thursday. “We have followed that order, working with our allies to arrest or charge thousands of MS-13 members across the Western Hemisphere since then.”
Long Island has become fertile recruiting ground for local MS-13 affiliates in part because it is a common destination for the resettlement of unaccompanied alien children from Central American countries where the transnational gang is based. Since the fall of 2103, Suffolk County has received 4,500 UAC and Nassau County has received 3,800.
Local law enforcement agencies estimate there are between 800 and 1,000 active MS-13 members and associates on Long Island.
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