Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo traveled to Brentwood, Long Island, Wednesday to announce the creation of an anti-gang policing initiative to combat MS-13, the brutal transnational gang that he called “a current scourge” on the area, reports the New York Times. Most recently, the gang has been implicated in the murders this month of four young men whose bodies were discovered on the edge of a town park in the neighboring Suffolk County town of Central Islip. As part of the statewide initiative, the state police will increase undercover and uniformed operations in the area, adding 25 officers to the efforts of local police and an FBI task force to battle the gang, which has its roots in Central America.
MS-13 was blamed for 11 murders last year in Suffolk County, including those of two teenage girls who were brutally pummeled with machetes and baseball bats near a Brentwood elementary school in September. The violence has attracted national attention. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to visit the area on Friday to discuss gang violence. President Trump has said the threat raised by gangs justifies his administration’s tough proposals on immigration, and he cited MS-13 as a reason for building a wall at the Mexican border. Cuomo distanced his actions from those of the Trump administration. “We’ve been talking about this for the past couple weeks,” he said. “I can’t speak to what the attorney general is doing.”