U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions cited last week’s quadruple murder on Long Island while touting a renewed federal crackdown on the violent street gang investigators suspect was responsible: MS-13.
Sessions briefly discussed how he plans to take down the four-decade-old street gang headquartered in El Salvador while speaking Tuesday to the Organized Crime Council, which includes leaders of various federal law enforcement agencies targeting syndicates such as the mafia and international drug cartels.
“Just a few days ago, law enforcement believes that members of MS-13 murdered four young men and dumped their bodies in a park on Long Island,” Sessions said while mentioning the case first in a list of recent high-profile violent crimes the gang is suspected of committing.
Suffolk County police have said they believed the four victims—three teenagers and a 20-year-old man—were killed where they were found, in a wooded area near the Central Islip Recreation Center, and not dumped there after being killed elsewhere.
The AG blamed “years of lax immigration enforcement” for the gang’s membership increasing to 10,000 in the US. He also blamed so-called sanctuary cities—municipalities that don’t comply with federal authorities requests to turn over for deportation criminal defendants that are undocumented immigrants.
“We will secure our border, expand immigration enforcement and choke-off supply lines,” Sessions said. “If you are a gang member: We will find you.
“We will devastate your networks,” he continued. “We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks and seize your profits. We will not concede a single block or street corner to your vicious tactics.”
Sessions’ remarks came hours after President Donald Trump tweeted about MS-13, although Trump didn’t mention LI specifically.
“The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S.,” Trump tweeted. “We are removing them fast!”
MS-13 was formed in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, now has more than 30,000 members worldwide, according to the Department of Justice.
It also came on the same day that Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco held a community forum on gangs.
“This problem is national in scope, but Long Island has been particularly impacted by gang activity,” DSeMarco said. “All too often people want to pretend this isn’t happening in their neighborhoods, but gangs are everywhere. We need to educate people who are in community about what to look for, and inform them about what to do if they see gang members recruiting outside their premises.”
Sessions, who called gangs such as MS-13 “one of the gravest threats to American safety,” signaled that additional law enforcement strategies targeting organized crime are in the works.
“Today is just the beginning,” he said. “There will be much more in the coming weeks and months as we seek to eradicate these transnational criminal organizations. Under the Trump Administration and this Department of Justice, there will be no safe quarter for gangs and those that support them.”