Gang members indicted in slayings of 3 NY teens

2017-03-03 06:58
A file photo shows a poster displayed at a Suffolk County police precinct when two best friends went missing. (Michael Balsamo, AP)

A file photo shows a poster displayed at a Suffolk County police precinct when two best friends went missing. (Michael Balsamo, AP)

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Central Islip - US federal agents said on Thursday that they had caught the members of a violent El Salvadoran street gang who killed three teenagers last year, including two girls who were inseparable best friends at their Long Island high school.

Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, were slaughtered in a residential neighbourhood near an elementary school in a September 13 attack that came amid a national conversation about illegal immigration. Last December, Donald Trump referenced the killings in Brentwood during a profile for his Time magazine "Man of the Year"award after being elected president.

Within a few weeks of the girls' deaths, the remains of three other Brentwood teens were found hidden in secluded areas. The victims included Jose Pena-Hernandez, 18, who had vanished in June.

Thirteen members of the MS-13 gang are facing federal charges in connection with the investigation, though not all are being charged in the killings, said local and federal officials.

Gang violence has been a problem in Brentwood and some surrounding Long Island towns for more than a decade, but Suffolk County police and the FBI began pouring resources into a crackdown after the killings of the high school girls sparked outrage.

Some people complained that police, school officials and others were not doing enough to stem the violence. Since then, police have arrested more than 125 suspected MS-13 gang members in Brentwood and elsewhere. MS-13 has been blamed for at least 30 other killings on Long Island since 2010.

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