AG Jeff Sessions cites MS-13 on LI in announcing gang crackdown

By Emily Ngo
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about crime to local, state and federal law enforcement officials in St. Louis in this March 31, 2017 photo. Photo Credit: AP

WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday cited last week’s quadruple homicide in Central Islip as he vowed a federal crackdown on MS-13 and issued a warning to members of the violent street gang: “We will find you.”

President Donald Trump on Tuesday also touted efforts to combat MS-13 but blamed his predecessor for its spread nationwide.
“The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S.,” he tweeted. “We are removing them fast!”
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Though Trump did not directly mention the Long Island slayings, his attorney general listed them as among the most recent acts of violence perpetrated by MS-13, now a key target for the Department of Justice.

“Just a few days ago, law enforcement believes that members of MS-13 murdered four young men and dumped their bodies in a park in Long Island,” Sessions said at a Washington, D.C., meeting on transnational organized crime.

“We will secure our border, expand immigration enforcement and choke off supply lines,” he said. “If you are a gang member, we will find you. . . . We will not concede a single block or street corner to your vicious tactics.”
Sessions did not announce specific steps in his remarks, but criticized so-called sanctuary cities whose officials may not heed all federal immigration orders.

Sessions had hosted FBI Director James Comey and federal law enforcement officials to generate “concrete ideas” following Trump’s Feb. 9 executive order to focus resources on fighting gangs and cartels and prevent international trafficking.

CrimeQuadruple homicide in LI park

Local authorities believe MS-13 is responsible for the killings of four young men whose bodies were discovered last Wednesday in a Central Islip park.
Tweets from @Newsday/newsday-staff

“We are in the midst of a war,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini declared last Thursday.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in an interview said Suffolk and FBI officials have assured him they are doing all they can in the Central Islip case.

He said of residents, “It should be encouraging for them to realize that Washington is aware of what’s happening.”

Though Trump faulted Obama, information provided by the Department of Justice cited progress made in 2009 and 2010 in disrupting MS-13 operations in target areas through the combined efforts of federal, state and local officials.
AG Sessions is doing a fantastic job: announced today new steps to dismantle violent gangs like MS-13. I promised to get tough and we are!
— President Trump (@POTUS) April 18, 2017

MS-13 is composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador and the street gang has been in the United States since at least the 1980s, originating in Los Angeles, according to the Department of Justice.

In a “Fox & Friends” interview that aired Tuesday, Trump said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is removing those who are in the country illegally and pose a safety threat.

“I’m talking about illegal immigrants that were here that caused tremendous crime that have murdered people, raped people; horrible things have happened,” the president said. “They are getting the hell out, or they are going to prison.”

A tweet later Tuesday from the official account of the president did not mention Obama and instead lauded Sessions’ leadership in working to dismantle transnational gangs.

“I promised to get tough and we are!” it read.

A White House spokesman, asked to elaborate on Trump’s tweet about Obama, said the president was referencing his own executive order.

Trump was described in a Time magazine profile in December showing the Time reporter an edition of Newsday with a front page on deadly MS-13 violence in Brentwood.

“They come from Central America. They’re tougher than any people you’ve ever met,” he had said.

Sessions Cites Central Islip Quadruple Murder in Touting MS-13 Crackdown

Timothy Bolger -

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.”