More than 40 alleged MS-13 gang members who were indicted on Thursday face conspiracy and other felony charges following a joint law enforcement operation takedown, Nassau prosecutors said.
The 41 alleged members of the violent gang with ties to El Salvador were indicted in connection with 32 violent acts dating back to early 2013, including eight attempted murders, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said at a news conference.
“Today’s arrests, along with targeted multi-jurisdictional efforts of our local, state and federal partners will make our communities safer and we will be unrelenting in our efforts to stop MS-13 from recruiting in our schools and spilling blood in our neighborhoods,” Singas said.
Thirty-five of the of the alleged gang members face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top charge.
Singas said the gang’s motive on Long Island is “not profit, but terror,” and she would not provide details on of the specific cases “because the gang is ruthless toward those who cooperate with law enforcement.”
Acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the arrests “is yet another example of the collaborative effort of numerous law enforcement jurisdictions.”
He said those arrested were ages 15 to 30 years old.
“We will not tolerate gang violence in Nassau County, and to be blunt, neither will the residents,” Krumpter said.
Singas said there were 13 violent incidents in Hempstead, nine in Uniondale, four in Westbury and three in Inwood.
In one case, Singas said, six of the defendants approached four people playing soccer at Hempstead Lake Park in May 2016 and identified themselves at MS-13 gang members. They then attacked the four victims, slashing them with large knives and machetes.
Multiple incidents alleged in the indictment include the use of a machete — a common weapon used by MS-13 members, Singas said.
Seventeen of the indicted defendants entered the country as unaccompanied children, according to Homeland Security.
Singas said prosecutors used conspiracy charge because it is a higher level felony that results in a higher sentence.
Singas said the gang recruits heavily at high schools in Roosevelt, Westbury and Uniondale.
During the investigation, Singas said, it was discovered that a person seeking to join the gang must be “jumped in,” which involves being beaten for at least 13 seconds.
The arrests follow a string of alleged gang member takedowns, including arrests after the killing of Brentwood High School students by gang members.
In April, U.S. Attorney General visited Suffolk County to discuss the gang problem after the discovery of mutilated bodies of four men in a park.