Po­lice ar­rest 35 sus­pected gang mem­bers amid homi­cide probe

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS -

Thir­ty­five sus­pected mem­bers of a Long Is­land gang have been ar­rested amid a string of bru­tal killings, in­clud­ing the dis­cov­ery of a teenager’s skele­tal re­mains.

Jose Pena-Her­nan­dez, 18, was be­lieved to be a mem­ber of the MS-13 gang with links to El Sal­vador and Los An­ge­les, the Suf­folk County as­sis­tant po­lice com­mis­sioner, Justin Mey­ers, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day.

The teen’s re­mains were found ear­lier this week in Brent­wood, a ham­let of 60,000 about 40 miles east of Man­hat­tan where law en­force­ment of­fi­cials have in­ten­si­fied their bat­tle against gang vi­o­lence.

This past month, four teenagers from Brent­wood High School were found dead.

The body of 15-year-old Nisa Mick­ens, who suf­fered head trauma and lac­er­a­tions, was dumped on a road on Sept. 13, po­lice said. Her best friend, 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas, was found beaten to death a day later be­hind a home.

Two miles away in a wooded area, po­lice made more grisly dis­cov­er­ies a week later: the re­mains of 19-year-old Os­car Acosta and 15-year-old Miguel Gar­cia-Mo­ran. Both had dis­ap­peared ear­lier this year.

“When the girls were mur­dered, the (Suf­folk County) po­lice com­mis­sioner made a com­mit­ment to the com­mu­nity to erad­i­cate gang vi­o­lence,” Mey­ers said. “We made strate­gic lists of gang mem­bers, with the goal to both quell the vi­o­lence and to ex­tract in­for­ma­tion about past crimes.”

In another killing au­thor­i­ties say likely is gang-re­lated, the body of 34-year-old De­wann Stacks was found last week in Brent­wood.

Mey­ers said that of the 35 sus­pects ar­rested in the past three weeks, five were vi­o­lent gang lead­ers. They’re in cus­tody fac­ing fed­eral charges un­der the RICO or­ga­nized crime act.

“This is just the be­gin­ning; we’re not go­ing to stop ‘til we dec­i­mate the crim­i­nal el­e­ment in Brent­wood,” said Mey­ers.

MS-13 is short for Mara Sal­va­trucha — a Sal­vado­ran-based street posse in­volved with ex­tor­tion, pros­ti­tu­tion and drug deal­ing. The gang emerged in the 1980s in Los An­ge­les, where im­mi­grants from El Sal­vador set­tled to es­cape civil war in their coun­try.

PHO­TOS BY CLAUDIA TORRENS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Sept. 27 photo, Abra­ham Cha­parro, holds a pho­to­graph of his mur­dered step­son, Miguel Gar­cia-Mo­ran, out­side his home in Brent­wood. Gar­cia-Mo­ran is among four teenagers from Brent­wood High School that have been found dead in a string of bru­tal killings that as­sis­tant Suf­folk County Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Justin Mey­ers says may be tied to gang vi­o­lence.

In this Sept. 27 photo, a poster fea­tur­ing pho­tos of Nisa Mick­ens and Kayla Cueva is part of a me­mo­rial near the spot where their bod­ies were found in Brent­wood.

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