Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, backed by a display of law-enforcement muscle, sent a sharp message to members of the MS-13 gang: You will pay for the violence you have unleashed on Brentwood and neighboring communities.
“If you are an MS-13 gang member, take a look behind me,” Sini said Wednesday as he stood in front of a police helicopter, armored SWAT vehicle, K-9 unit dogs and dozens of cops and recruits during a news conference at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. “For every person here, there is ten more — and we are coming for you.”
Sini praised the Suffolk cops who participated in the six-month investigation that led to the March 2 indictment of more than a half-dozen members of MS-13, the infamous gang prosecutors say was behind the brutal killings of two Brentwood girls and a fellow gang member.
Suffolk police, Sini said, have arrested 142 MS-13 members since Kayla Cuevas, 16, and Nisa Mickens, 15, were attacked by gang members with baseball bats and machetes in September.
Federal prosecutors say Jose Pena-Hernandez, 18, was killed because his fellow gang members believed he had talked to law-enforcement officers. Sources also said MS-13 members targeted Pena-Hernandez because they suspected he was gay.
Sini said his department will continue to work with the FBI and other agencies to pressure the several hundred MS-13 members who remain on the street.
“Our short-term objective is to solve all the homicides in Brentwood,” Sini said. “Our long-term objective is to eradicate MS-13 from that area.”
Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone urged members of MS-13 and other street gangs to reject criminal lifestyles. He said Sini, working with county officials and educators, has started a program that will help gang members separate themselves from criminal organizations.
“We want you to pull away from these gangs,” Bellone said. “We don’t want that life for you.”
Sini and other Long Island law-enforcement officials will join State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Central Islip) at a news conference in Bay Shore Thursday to announce legislation that would ban the sale of machetes to minors.
Boyle said the proposal is necessary because machetes have become the weapon of choice for gang members. “We’re seeing an increasing number of gang attacks using machetes,” Boyle said.
“I can tell you there is a tremendous sense of relief in the Central Islip and Brentwood communities,” Boyle added. “It was scary to have these guys on the street.”