What to Know
- A van full of MS-13 members and associates were about to abduct a 16-year-old boy in Brentwood when detectives stopped them, police say
- Five people who were allegedly in the van face federal charges; four of them are Brentwood High School students
- They allegedly planned to kill the boy to elevate their status in the gang
Undercover detectives stopped five people associated with the gang MS-13 from kidnapping and killing a random 16-year-old boy walking on a Long Island street, police said.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini announced the arrests of the five suspects — four of them Brentwood High School students — at a press conference Thursday. He said three of them are MS-13 members and two of them are associated with the gang.
The 16-year-old was walking near First Street and Third Avenue, in the vicinity of Brentwood High School, Wednesday afternoon when police say the five suspects pulled up in a van and tried to lure him inside. Two undercover detectives spotted what was happening and moved in with guns drawn and arrested four men and one woman who were inside the van.
“They literally prevented a murder of a 16-year-old boy at the hands of MS-13,” Sini said of the detectives.
Sini said the detectives were in the area because residents had reported seeing people roving around in a van and harassing Hispanic boys near the high school Tuesday morning. Two of the boys were hit with baseball bats — one in the arm and one in the leg — but did not suffer serious injuries. A third boy was also targeted in a two-hour period. Sini said police believe the five suspects were responsible for the attacks on Tuesday as well.
Sini wouldn’t go into details but said police have evidence the five suspects planned to kidnap and kill the boy.
“We do believe they were looking to elevate their status in the MS-13 community by carrying out that murder,” Sini said.
The five suspects are Jorge Bermudez Cedillos, 18, Oscar Fuentes, 18, Vidal Contrera-Ortiz, 18, Miguel Rivera, 20, and a 17-year-old girl. Sini said Cedillos, Fuentes and the girl are unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, while Contrera-Ortiz and Rivera entered the U.S. illegally from El Salvador.
It wasn't immediately known if they had attorneys who could comment on the charges.
Suffolk County police say they’ve worked with federal authorities to arrest more than 200 MS-13 members or associates as part of a crackdown on the gang. More than 30 of them have been charged with serious federal crimes and more than 100 have been detained for deportation.
At least 25 people have been killed in MS-13 violence since last year. Authorities have scoured wooded areas and parks in recent months searching for evidence and human remains.
MS-13, or the Mara Salvatrucha, is believed by federal prosecutors to have thousands of members across the U.S., primarily immigrants from Central America. It has a stronghold in Los Angeles, where it emerged in the 1980s as a neighborhood street gang, but also has wreaked violence in cities and suburbs across the United States.