ICE, police arrest 45 in New York area gang sweep

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Federal agents and New York area police departments teamed up to arrest more than three dozen alleged MS-13 gang members from Long Island and New York City. Agents are trying to make good on the president's promise to wipe out the notorious street gang.

Since January 2016, an alarming 38 percent of all homicides in Suffolk County, Long Island, have been linked to MS-13. The brutal gang is connected to 17 of the county's 45 homicides.

"For the community and everybody else, it's very terrifying," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Molina of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In the last 30 days, Operation Matador took down 39 MS-13 gang members and affiliates. Authorities arrested six other people affiliated with transnational gangs: two with the Sureños, one with the 18th Street Gang, one with the Latin Kings, and one with Los Niños Malos, and one with Patria, ICE said.

"I think it's a big impact," Molina said. "I think if you take one MS-13 member off the street, that makes an impact."

Operation Matador was launched by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations and ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations. They worked with other agencies and the NYPD, NCPD, and SCPD. The collaborative anti-gang effort was designed to combat transnational criminal gang activity in the New York metropolitan area.

"Everyone has different databases, which we are researching and accessing," Molina said. "We're pulling out the gang names and then we're working with our state and locals and with DHS components to pick up these individuals."

Suffolk County accounted for the largest number of arrests with 33. But enforcement action was conducted across multiple communities in Nassau County, Queens, and Brooklyn. Of the 45 men arrested, nearly half had a criminal history, including prior convictions for assault and weapons charges.

"The overall goal is to make our communities safe again," Molina said. "To give good people in our communities a sense of peace."

The arrestees included nationals from four countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala. Some are facing criminal charges. Depending on their status, they either are subject to immediate removal from the country or will go before an immigration judge.

A dozen of the MS-13 members crossed the border as unaccompanied minors, ICE said.