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Long Island News

Brutal Gang Murders Devastate Long Island, Draw Federal Attention

Frank Eltman
The casket of Justin Llivicura is carried from St. Joseph the Worker Church after Llivicura's funeral Wednesday in East Patchogue, N.Y. Police have made no arrests in the recent killings, one of 11 suspected gang killings on Long Island since September.

A Long Island community is on edge as it mourns the death of four teenage boys. Police found the bodies of Jorge Tigre and Michael Banegas last week near a community park in Central Islip. Police say the brutal manner in which the boys were killed are consistent with the style of MS-13 murders.   

This is the latest in a series of gang-related deaths in Suffolk that began in September with the murder of two teenage girls. Shortly after, four more bodies were discovered – all suspected to be killed at the hands of MS-13.

Mario, who did not want to disclose his full name in order to protect his family, plays handball at the same park where the bodies of the boys were discovered. He moved from Hempstead, another Long Island community affected by gang violence, several years ago.

“I have a daughter and my biggest fear is her going to these schools so my goal is hopefully to move out of here one day too, you know.”

South Country Central School District, where two of the boys who were murdered had attended high school, is taking extra security precautions as students return from spring break. They are also providing counseling to students.

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited gang violence on Long Island in his call for enhanced border security and immigration reform.

At a meeting with law enforcement and other federal agencies, Sessions mentioned the recent murders of the four teenagers, as well as other murders that are believed to be by MS-13 around the country.

“They are not content to simply ruin the lives of adults, MS-13 recruits in our high schools, our middle schools and even our elementary schools.”

He threatened to find gang members, devastate their networks, starve their revenue sources, deplete ranks and seize profits.

Sessions also called out sanctuary cities, saying they’re undermining the process and helping to harbor criminal immigrants.

President Trump tweeted early Tuesday morning about MS-13, blaming the spread of the gang on illegal immigration.

On Tuesday evening, U.S. Representative Peter King, R-NY2, said he will hold a congressional hearing on the violence. King made the announcement at a monthly community meeting that was also attended by Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini and County Executive Steve Bellone.

King has called the MS-13 gang “a growing threat to decent, hardworking people on Long Island.”

In a telephone town hall held in March, King said he would try to convince President Trump to come to Long Island and see the impact of gang violence. King said he intends to have the field hearing in the next four to six weeks.

Funerals for Tigre and Banegas were held Wednesday and Thursday in East Patchogue and Brentwood.

Father Martin Curtin urged those present to use Tigre’s memory to move forward and improve their community.

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