What to Know
- MS-13, also called Mara Salvatrucha, is believed to have been founded as a neighborhood street gang in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s
- It grew after some members were deported to El Salvador, helping to turn that country into one of the most violent places in the world
- It's now a major international criminal enterprise with tens of thousands of members; about 200 "hardcore" members are on Long Island
Eleven mostly young people have been found dead in two Long Island neighborhoods since the start of the school year. All are believed to have been killed by the notoriously violent MS-13 street gang. Here's a look at the victims:
NISA MICKENS, 15, AND KAYLA CUEVAS, 15
The two girls, best friends, were out for a walk about an hour after sundown on Sept. 13 when four gang members jumped out of a car and killed them with baseball bats and a machete, authorities say. Prosecutors say a week earlier, Cuevas had been involved in a dispute with MS-13 gang members at Brentwood High School. Four teenagers, including two juveniles, were charged in the killings in March.
OSCAR ACOSTA, 19
Police discovered his remains in a wooded area near some railroad tracks on Sept. 16, three days after the attack on Kayla and Nisa. Acosta had been missing since April 29, when he left his Brentwood home to play soccer. His mother, Maria Arias, spent days going door to door looking for her son. Acosta was born in El Salvador and arrived in the U.S. when he was 16.
MIGUEL GARCIA MORAN, 15
The boy's skeletal remains were discovered Sept. 21, close to where Acosta's were found. He had disappeared in Brentwood on Feb. 19 after going off to meet some friends. His stepfather, Abraham Chaparro, says Moran emigrated from Ecuador, liked cars, soccer and girls.
DEWANN STACKS, 34
Stacks was walking along a road in Brentwood near a wooded area sometimes used as a gang meeting spot when he was attacked and beaten to death on Oct. 13. Police say it appeared to be a random act. He had only recently moved to the area.
JOSE PENA-HERNANDEZ, 18
Police found his body in a wooded area of Brentwood on Oct. 17. He had been missing since June 13. Police say he was an MS-13 member and was killed because he was suspected of violating gang rules. Several people have been indicted in his death.
ESTEBAN ALVARADO-BONILLA, 29
A gunman killed him inside a Central Islip deli on Jan. 30. Police say he may have been in the gang. His parents live in El Salvador. No arrests have been made.
JEFFERSON VILLALOBOS, 18, MICHAEL LOPEZ BANEGAS, 20, JORGE TIGRE, 18, AND JUSTIN LLIVICURA, 16
The bodies of the four young men were discovered April 12 in a Central Islip park. A grisly video of the crime scene sent to one of the victims' girlfriends shows them lying together with their hands bound. Villalobos was from Pompano, Florida, and was visiting his cousin, Banegas, in Brentwood. They went out the night before and never returned. Tigre and his friend Llivicura lived a 30-minute drive from where they were killed. Tigre's brother told reporters an acquaintance called him to say he witnessed the killings and escaped. Llivicura was born in the U.S. to Ecuadorean parents.