NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - An MS-13 gang member who became an informant is now facing deportation. He and his lawyer say he was sold out by authorities and now he faces almost certain death.
"Henry" told his story to ProPublica, an independent nonprofit news organization. Currently, he is being held at an ICE facility in New Jersey and faces deportation back to El Salvador. Henry says he joined the MS-13 gang at about age 12. After he was forced to a kill a man or be killed himself he fled El Salvador, pleaded for asylum and entered the U.S. legally, hoping to escape the gang. He settled in Brentwood, Long Island, where his mother was living, and enrolled in high school.
However, Brentwood is inundated with MS-13 a notoriously violent gang connected to 17 murders in Suffolk County. Eventually, Henry was forced back into the gang.
ProPublica reporter Hannah Dreier told Fox 5 that gang members are not allowed to leave MS-13—members are in for life.
Henry said that he and girl he did not know, Kayla Cuevas, would flash each other gang hand signals. Him, MS-13 and her, the Bloods. He told his gang leaders.
MS-13 gang members viciously murdered Kayla Cuevas and her friend in 2016. Henry did not participate. Soon after, he became an informant for the police and FBI.
"The local police told Henry that they couldn't protect him but he could get protection from the FBI gang task force," Dreier told Fox 5. "And Henry says that's why he talked to his gang task force handler—he thought he'd be put in witness protection."
Henry said he gave authorities gang members' names, told them what he knew about the killings, and supplied the names of 11 kids who MS-13 was planning to kill.
In January, Kayla's mother was a White House guest at President Trump's State of the Union Address as the president talked about cracking down on MS-13.
But after supplying information, instead of getting protection Henry was arrested by ICE agents. He is being held in a facility with other suspected MS-13 gang members, some of whom he said he ratted out to the FBI. He is awaiting his final deportation hearing Thursday.
Henry told ProPublica that he feels betrayed and that he should never have talked.
"Advocates who've thought about this case say that anybody who sees what happened to Henry will be very reluctant to talk to the police going forward," Dreier said.
Fox 5 reached out to the FBI and ICE about Henry's situation. ICE declined to comment. The FBI had not responded as of Monday evening.