Officials said that the massive arrest of members and associates of the criminal group came as a result of a two-year process of investigation by local, state and federal authorities, saying that it is the largest criminal take down, by numbers, in the history of NY.
Gang members on Long Island conspired with colleagues from as far away as Europe and Oklahoma, collecting cash from drug sales and sending that money to the organization's leaders in El Salvador, according to the 77-count indictment handed up Monday. "The arrests occurred in dozens of locations, including in some Long Island suburbs and the Netherlands".
Sini added that the operation helped "end" MS-13's program in Suffolk County, which had become a hotbed for the gang on the East Coast.
"This is one of the most significant and far-reaching takedowns of MS-13 and its associates to date, and further decimates their ability to terrorize Long Island communities, recruit new members and distribute deadly drugs on our streets", said Suffolk County Sheriff Dr. Errol Toulon, Jr.
Sources told the New York Post that most of the arrests were made Thursday and Friday morning.
"We're here today to discuss the menace of MS-13, a ruthless gang that has violated our borders and transformed our once peaceful neighborhoods into blood-stained fields", Trump said during the July 2017 visit.
Originally founded in Southern California by gang members from El Salvador, MS-13, known in Spanish as La Mara Salvatrucha, has been accused in recent years of brutal murders and assaults on eastern Long Island.
Evidence was recovered as part of the investigation, including ten kilograms of cocaine, 1,000 fentanyl pills, 11 guns, and numerous machetes - the MS-13 gang's preferred weapon for slaughtering victims.
A almost two-year investigation has resulted in the arrest of more than 230 MS-13 gang members and associates around the world, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said Friday.
Those 96 MS-13 gang members, whose ages range from 16 to 59-years-old, come from nine of the region's ten cliques, and the investigation has led to more than 230 arrests of MS-13 gang members in NY state, nationwide, and in El Salvador. El Salvador's Supreme Court defined the gang as a terrorist group in 2015, allowing courts there to give tougher sentences to its members.
PHOTO: Items recovered during the MS-13 investigation including drugs and weapons are displayed during a press conference, December 20, 2019, in Riverhead, Long Island, New York.
"They kidnap, they extort, they rape and they rob". Sini said that the "operation has delivered a major blow to MS-13 operations and recruitment in the region". Police say they suspect the gang's involvement in at least 25 killings in the past three years alone. "They will attempt to recalibrate and send individuals to take up leadership roles in Suffolk County". Look over their shoulder.