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Former Salvadoran Police Chief Speaks To LI Police About Gang Violence

Frank Eltman
The casket of Justin Llivicura is carried from St. Joseph the Worker Church after Llivicura's funeral in East Patchogue, N.Y. Llivicura, 16, was one of four young men found slain in a suspected MS-13 gang killing in a park in Central Islip, N.Y., in 2017.

A former police chief from El Salvador visited Long Island to speak at a forum for law enforcement about gangs. Rodrigo Avila said Long’s Island’s problem with gangs is far from what El Salvador faces, but tighter border security along with information sharing is necessary to reduce gang violence.

To law enforcement, Avila painted a gruesome portrait of the gang violence that, at its worst, killed or disappeared 8,000 people a year in El Salvador. When asked about President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration and MS-13, Avila said the borders need to be secured.

“And that’s why sharing information is so important. Because that way you cannot label everyone who wants to immigrate a thug or anything.”

Last spring Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon visited El Salvador in order to build an intelligence sharing relationship. Toulon says the sheriff’s office and police in El Salvador are now exchanging information about specific people and criminal acts in order to prevent future crime. The sheriff’s office has also sent deputies to El Salvador to help train police.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.