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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

MS-13 pushed on even with arrests

Jairo Saenz, one of the accused MS-13 street

Jairo Saenz, one of the accused MS-13 street gang members, is taken into custody on March 2, 2017. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Five months after two brothers gave subordinate MS-13 members permission to kill a high school girl walking down the street with a friend in Brentwood, the pair okayed another slaying — of a suspected rival who was shot to death at a Central Islip deli in broad daylight.

The deli killing on Jan. 30 came even as Suffolk police and federal investigators flooded the community in response to the September 2016 beating deaths of Kayla Cuevas and her best friend, Nisa Mickens.

And still MS-13 was going about its deadly business.

In March, federal authorities arrested four adult suspects in the teens’ deaths, including brothers Alexi and Jairo Saenz of Brentwood. And on Wednesday, three of those four suspects, including the Saenz brothers, were again named as suspects — this time in the slaying of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla at El Campesino Deli.

As in the slayings of Nisa and Kayla, the detail of how the gang operates, offered by federal prosecutors in a six-page detention memo, is chilling.

On Jan. 30, a gang member saw Alvarado-Bonilla inside a deli — just as, five months earlier, a gang member had spotted Kayla and Nisa walking down the street.

The member alerted the Saenz brothers, who directed him and other gang members to go to the deli and kill the suspected rival gang member — just as the Saenz brothers are alleged to have done when members sought permission to kill Kayla because she had been disrespectful.

“MS-13 suspected that Alvarado-Bonilla was a rival gang member, so based on the rules of MS-13, he had to be killed immediately,” prosecutors told U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco in a detention memo. “The speed with which the plan came together as well as the coldblooded nature in which it was carried out is further evidence of the MS-13’s single-minded and unflinching reflex to kill.”

Then came the evening of April 11, and with it four more bludgeoned bodies. This time around, the suspects were different. But the precision with which MS-13 planned an attack on four young men who were believed to have disrespected the gang, or were rivals, was the same.

Two female associates were assigned to lure five young men — one of whom would escape — to a community park, where more than a dozen members and associates would be waiting. The attackers got there first and, according to prosecutors, “discussed the plan to kill the victims, distributed weapons and waited for word from the females when they arrived.”

The young men were led into a wooded area by the female associates, who stopped “at a fallen tree next to a fence” to send “text messages of their location,” the indictment said. They were surrounded by MS-13 members and associates and killed with machetes, knives and wooden clubs. Later, the bodies were moved farther into the woods, and piled together.

At some point before police arrived on April 12, someone videotaped the bodies. The recording was made in daylight, and children can be heard playing nearby.

According to Suffolk police, 10 suspects have been arrested in the slayings of Justin Llivicura, Michael Lopez, Jorge Tigre and Jefferson Villalobos.

Six of them are juveniles.

Was the quadruple slaying an initiation? The gang’s attempt to grow, even as police, federal and state law enforcement continues to flood the community?

Authorities didn’t say.

But the quest to root out MS-13, they said, will go on.

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