Nearly 100 members and associates of the notorious MS-13 gang were charged with crimes Friday in one of the largest law enforcement efforts against the group in U.S. history.
The charges against 96 accused members and associates in Suffolk County, N.Y., came after a nearly two-year investigation that officials said stopped seven murder plots.
“MS-13 is a ruthless, savage gang,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said at a news conference. “They will attempt to recalibrate and send individuals to take up leadership roles in Suffolk County. That’s why we have to stay vigilant.”
The transnational gang, which was originally founded by El Salvadoran refugees living in Los Angeles, has maintained a hub in Suffolk County on the east end of Long Island, which has seen a spike in gang violence in recent years.
The gang has been involved in dozens of killings in New York since 2016, according to NBC New York. Authorities said they seized more than 10 kilograms of cocaine, hundreds of fentanyl pills, drug ledgers, long guns and other firearms, and more than $200,000 in cash.
Officials said MS-13 would deal drugs and exchange the money from the sales for weapons, ammunition and more drugs from El Salvador.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) praised the latest indictments, saying the action was proof that “MS-13’s power is diminishing.”
“MS-13 has terrorized Long Island communities for too long, murdering innocent New Yorkers and instilling fear in countless others,” Cuomo said in a statement Friday.
The gang has been thrust further into the headlines in recent years, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpMaxine Waters warns if Senate doesn’t remove Trump, he’ll ‘invite Putin to the White House’ Trump signs .4 T spending package, averting shutdown Twenty-five Jewish lawmakers ask Trump to fire Stephen Miller over ‘white nationalist’ comments MORE uses MS-13’s growing influence as a prime justification for his hard-line immigration policies.