US

New York Teenager Stabbed by MS-13 Members Who Were Released by Judge: Police

By Zachary Stieber

A teenager was stabbed in New York state on Jan. 9 by MS-13 members who were previously apprehended by authorities but ordered released by a federal judge.

In the latest crime that appears to be committed by illegal aliens, the 16-year-old was stabbed by the trio of gang members behind a Burger King on Long Island.

The teen told police that he was at the restaurant when six of his classmates from Huntington High School entered and began glaring at him.

The victim and his friend left but three of the gang members followed them. The trio was armed with bats and knives.

An altercation broke out in a parking lot and the victim was stabbed by Ramon Arevalo Lopez, 19, police told WABC. The 16-year-old was later rushed to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.

The three gang members fled the scene but were soon caught by the police.

Lopez had been picked up by the Department of Homeland Security in October 2017 after entering the United States illegally on Dec. 8, 2016, police said. But a federal judge ordered him released from custody in June 2018. According to The Intercept, authorities had identified Lopez as a likely gang member but the federal judge, Robert Sweet, 95, claimed that the government was breaking the law by holding Lopez.

Arevalo Lopez “made admissions” to committing the stabbing, Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini told Newsday. However, Lopez’s attorney Jason Bassett said his client isn’t an MS-13 member nor did he commit the stabbing.

“By all accounts, he’s a gentle and unassuming young man who’s not a MS-13 member,” Bassett said. “He’s an innocent young man. We’re going to fight these charges vigorously.”

The two other suspects were identified as Nobeli Montes Zuniga, 20, and Oscar Canales Molina, 17. They both entered the country illegally as well. Monila was apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security in July 2017 but also ordered released by a federal judge several months later.

They were all charged with second-degree assault and face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

All three were in the Suffolk County’s database of likely gang members. “While it’s not clear what the fight was about, it is clear that the defendants are all members of the MS-13 gang,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.

Agents arrest MS-13 member
Homeland Security Investigations agents frisk a suspected MS-13 gang member and Honduran immigrant after arresting him at his home in Brentwood, New York on March 29, 2018. (John Moore/Getty Images)

MS-13

The motto of MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, is “kill, rape, control.” Members, most of whom are illegal aliens, are known for their brazen violence, including beheadings.

“MS-13 has created a brand—like Los Zetas in Mexico—based on its reputation for engaging in unspeakable acts of brutality using machete and knife attacks against those that cross it,” Robert J. Bunker, an adjunct research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, told The Epoch Times.

“This barbaric reputation greatly aids the gang in its collection of street taxes from local merchants and helps it to protect its turf and drug trade against opposing gangs who are afraid to face the ‘street terrorism’ it can wage against them.”

MS-13 bolsters its ranks through recruitment in schools, often of youth coming into the United States from Central America as unaccompanied minors.

“What we’re seeing is that MS, by and large, is using the schools as recruitment centers,” Fitzhugh said. “The fear of not joining the gang is so significant that kids feel compelled, that they have no other option but to join the gang. And so obviously this is a win-win for MS, because this environment is there, and a lot of these kids are vulnerable.”

Donald Trump makes Oval Office speech
President Donald Trump speaks to the nation in his first prime address from the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 8, 2019. (Carlos Barria-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump Tries Addressing Illegal Immigration

The stabbing in New York took place just days after President Donald Trump, in his first address to the nation as president, urged people to support the proposed border wall to crack down on illegal immigration.

“Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders,” Trump said.

“In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.”

The president said he’s met with dozens of families whose loved ones were killed by people in the country illegally.

“I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls. How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” he said.

On Thursday, Trump was joined at the U.S.-Mexico border by families of some of those slain by illegal aliens.

“No family should suffer the loss of a child. A parent should not have to bury their child,” said Marie Vega, whose son, Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr, was shot when he tried to stop an illegal alien from stealing the family’s vehicle. “We need the wall—but not just the wall. There’s other things we need to do also.”

ms-13 member with tattoos
A member of the MS-13 gang participates in a press conference at the Sonsonate Central Jail in the city of Sonsonate, El Salvador, in a Feb. 8, 2012 file photo. (Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images)

MS-13 on Long Island

The stabbing by alleged MS-13 members comes less than two weeks after officials in Suffolk County, ground zero for the gang on Long Island, said that a crackdown on the gang led to record-low gang-related crimes.

“We have now seen a 22 and a half percent reduction in violent crime this year,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone during a press conference, according to Newsday. “And in fact, every category of violent crime has decreased in 2018.”

The Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) formed a gang task force in response to an increase in gang activity. That, and the partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, has contributed to the falling crime rate in Long Island, said SCPD Commissioner Geraldine Hart.

Operation Matador, a “unified effort to combat the proliferation of MS-13 and other transnational criminal gang activity in Long Island,” has arrested a total of 475 individuals since May 2017, according to a news release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Of those arrests, 274 were MS-13 members or affiliates. Two hundred and ten arrests were made in Nassau County and 177 in Suffolk County.

Four homicides on Long Island in 2018 were linked to the gang. Two of the killings were found to have happened in 2017 but because the bodies were found in 2018, the bodies were counted in that year’s homicide statistics, reported Fox News. Two other homicides in Long Island in 2018 were gang-related but they did not involve MS-13.

On Dec. 18, 2018, the body of 17-year-old Harold B. Sermeno was found near the Five Towns Community Center in Nassau County with several gunshot wounds, according to the LI Herald. This is one of the murders that is believed to be MS-13 related but the case is still under investigation.

In 2017, police reported that 14 killings were connected to MS-13 in Long Island, according to Newsday. The gang is infamous for its brutal crimes including executions, machete attacks, hacking victims to death, and human trafficking.

Epoch Times reporters Charlotte Cuthbertson and Miguel Moreno contributed to this report.