Forty one alleged members of MS-13, the street gang suspected of murdering 11 people in Suffolk County since September, were rounded up over the past month for violence in Nassau County, authorities announced Thursday.
Thirty three of the suspects were arrested in Suffolk, with the rest from Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn, officials said. They were indited on 85 charges for 32 attempted murders, assaults and other crimes in Nassau over the past four years.
“MS-13 has terrorized communities, killed innocent people, and stolen the childhoods of the vulnerable young people they recruit to join their ranks,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas. “We will be unrelenting in our efforts to stop MS-13 from recruiting in our schools and spilling blood in our neighborhoods.”
The gang bust, part of a years-long U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiative dubbed Operation Matador, was a joint effort with Homeland Security Investigations and other agencies. The operation has led to nearly 50,000 gang-related arrests nationwide since it was launched 2005, according to ICE. The gang, which has members nationally and worldwide, is largely made up of and preys upon immigrants from Latin American nations.
Besides the murders in Suffolk—including a quadruple slaying in April—authorities suspect MS-13 is responsible for violence in Hempstead, Uniondale, Westbury and Inwood, authorities said. Most of these incidents involve the use of a machete, according to investigators. The gang is known for flashing weapons to kids they are looking to recruit, and then threatening the kids and their families, officials said.
All of the MS-13 gang members who were arrested are male, with a majority from El Salvador and Honduras, although some are from Mexico and Guatemala. Seventeen came to America as unaccompanied minors, and three entered with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Some individuals will be prosecuted for reentry after deportation, others will be processed for removal from the United States and the remaining will go before an immigration judge.