According to the FBI, multiple remains found at the end of last month belonged to Javier Castillo, 16, and Kerin Pineda, 19. They were discovered in wooded areas in Merrick and Cow Meadow Park in Freeport.

Castilla was reported missing in October 2016 and Pineda disappeared in May 2016. Just days before discovering their remains, authorities located the body of 16-year-old Angel Soler after receiving a tip from Homeland Security officials.

Soler’s remains were discovered less than five miles from the two other bodies — and all three teens’ bodies were recovered within the span of nine days.

Fox News reports that the three teenagers are suspected to be victims of MS-13 gang violence, a law enforcement officer stated.  These three slayings bring the Long Island death total, tied to MS-13 violence, to 25 over the past two years, officials said.

The FBI assistant director told the committee that the gang has “gained notoriety” because of their “brutal nature.” “Their motivation is rooted in a desire to kill for the sake of killing. The attacks on their victims are gruesome, typically up close and personal. They often involve mutilation and dismemberment and are sometimes recorded.”

“MS-13 is not the largest street gang in the United States; it is increasingly the most violent and well-organized,” an official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told the House Homeland Security.

MS-13 is short for Mara Salvatrucha, but the criminal organization is better known by its abbreviation. The group operates in at least 42 states and Washington, D.C. and boasts more than 6,000 members, according to the FBI, which has been trying to stop it for more than a decade.

Most members are from El Salvador or are first generation Salvadoran-Americans. MS-13 started in Los Angeles in the late 1980s, although the group has spread toward the East Coast since then, the FBI said.

Federal officials say MS-13 is to blame for decades of violence and drug activity across the country. Members usually try to recruit middle and high school students, according to the FBI. MS-13 is believed to be responsible for 15 murders in Suffolk County, N.Y. since last year. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted its members as “thugs” last month while announcing new initiatives to take down the group, local news outlets reported.

The FBI said MS-13 members have been known to use machetes to carry out violence. “The MS-13 motto is kill, rape and control,” Sessions said during an April visit to Suffolk County.

Sessions has targeted the gang as part of the Trump administration’s larger crackdown on both violent crime and undocumented immigrants.

“Our motto is justice for victims and consequences for criminals. That’s how simple it is. Prosecute them, and after they’ve been convicted, if they’re not here lawfully, they’re going to be deported,” Sessions said last month during his Suffolk County visit.

Sessions said he would beef up the number of prosecutors to the Eastern District of New York, while Cuomo added more than two dozen state police officers to combat the gang violence.

Earlier this month, nearly 1,400 gang members and their affiliates were arrested after a six-week national crackdown on gang activity, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. More than 100 of them were part of the MS-13, authorities said.

President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Long Island in the last six months to promise federal action to stem the violence.

AFF’s Huny Badger is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.



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