Four dead teenagers. Two weeks. One town. And a ruthless gang, the authorities say, was most likely responsible for the toll. Again.
On Sept. 13, Nisa Mickens, 15, and her best friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16, were murdered, their battered bodies found near an elementary school here. A week later and just two miles away, the skeletal remains of two more teenagers — identified as Oscar Acosta, 19, and Miguel Garcia-Moran, 15 — were found in the woods near a psychiatric hospital. Oscar had been missing since May, Miguel since February. Their deaths have been ruled homicides.
Brentwood, a hardscrabble town of nearly 60,000 on Long Island, 40 miles east of Manhattan, has reached another crisis point. For nearly two decades, MS-13, a gang with roots in Los Angeles and El Salvador, has been terrorizing the town, the authorities say, especially its young people. Since 2009, its members have been accused of at least 14 murders, court and police records show.
School officials are scrambling. Police officers are searching. Students are frightened. Parents are anguished.
Tensions simmer here because some residents say they believe an increase in Central American migrants to town has led to the increase in gang violence. According to 2014 census figures compiled by Queens College, Brentwood’s population is 68 percent Latino or Hispanic, with more than 17,000 residents claiming to be from El Salvador.
Timothy Sini, who became the Suffolk County police commissioner 11 months ago, after his predecessor, James Burke, pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and obstruction of justice, has vowed to eradicate the gangs.
“There’s been a huge influx, to be honest with you,” said Ray Mayo, the president of the Brentwood Association of Concerned Citizens, who added that he was upset over undocumented immigrants crowding rental properties. “It seems like a whole new set of gang members who have stirred the pot up.”
We have plenty of MS-13 here in Queens but no one wants to talk about it. I wonder why?