More than 40 MS-13 gang members under arrest

NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- More than 40 members of the MS-13 street gang are now under arrest.

Just one year ago, MS-13 gang members stabbed three teens with machetes and knives at Hempstead Lake Park.

Residents say they're tired of living in fear.

Ask any family in West Hempstead, and it's clear they have felt the terror right in their own community, right in their backyard.

The mere mention of MS-13 causes people to want to hide their identity.

Because this is their turf.

It was in Hempstead Lake Park, May of last year, when a vicious assault paralyzed this neighborhood.

Investigators say six MS-13 gang members surrounded a group of teens playing soccer, and went on a brutal relentless attack.

"Make no mistake we are war," law enforcement said.

Nassau County law enforcement and federal authorities Thursday struck back.

41 alleged MS-13 gang members were arrested Thursday morning, and indicted for acts of violence and conspiracy.

It's believed to be the largest MS-13 take down in New York State history.

Some are facing attempted murder charges.

Most are facing 25 years-to-life in prison if convicted.

From machetes to chains to handguns, all part of their alleged arsenal, are now off the streets.

What makes MS-13 unlike any other gang, officials say, is their goal which is fear itself.

"They're not motivated by profit. Like other gangs, moving drugs, moving weapons. They're motivated by violence," said Madeline Singas, Nassau County District Attorney.

Nassau County DA Singas calls it a sinister gang that prides itself on demented acts.

They threaten members who want out with violence and death, and then target their families.

They prey on the vulnerable, as young as 8 years old, at schools, parks and playgrounds.

17 of those arrested Thursday entered this country illegally, without their parents.

They are the ideal recruit.

"I think the appeal is a sense of belonging. A sense that someone's going to look out for them even if it's a gang member," Singas said.

But officials say these arrests are just part of the solution.

Support at schools, reaching kids before MS-13 gets to them, offers them protection before they become trapped in a world with no escape.

"The overwhelming majority of our immigrant neighbors are hardworking law abiding peaceful people who came here for a better life. And more often than not the victims, the victims of these gang members are immigrants themselves," Singas said.
The youngest suspect is just 15 years old.

The gang is responsible for at least 15 murders in the past year and a half.

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