NEW YORK –– Dozens of suspected MS-13 gang members were arrested in New York City and Long Island, federal officials said Wednesday.
Forty-five “confirmed” gang members, including 39 who are affiliated with the notorious MS-13 crew, were arrested in a multi-county bust dubbed “Operation Matador” led by ICE, Homeland Security Investigations and Removal Operations, according to an ICE news release.
“Transnational gangs like MS-13 bring nothing but violence and conflict to our communities and their presence will not be tolerated. Their vicious criminal activities present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York.
MS-13 has been blamed for at least a dozen murders on Long Island, including the deadly beatings of four young men who were found in Central Islip, Suffolk County. The county accounted for 33 arrests, the largest number during the operation.
ICE agents also arrested eight gang members in Nassau County, three in Queens and one in Brooklyn.
ICE said those arrested are all males, including nationals from El Salvador (27), Honduras (11), Mexico (5) and Guatemala (2).
Twenty of the suspects had an extensive criminal history, including prior convictions with assault and weapons charges, ICE said. One has a pending felony grand larceny charge and a final order of removal from the country.
Those arrested were confirmed as gang members if they admitted to membership, convicted of gang-related activity, have tattoos identifying a specific gang or identified as a gang member by a reliable source, according to ICE.
Most of the arrested gang members will face deportation. The remaining detainees will go before an immigration judge.