The notorious MS-13 gang has been recently linked to another series of murders.
In October, the three teens’ remains were discovered in separate wooded areas in Long Island.
A law enforcement official has told The Associated Press that the authorities investigating the case believe that the street gang is behind the murders.
“The FBI said the two sets of remains found at the end of last month belonged to Javier Castillo, 16, and Kerin Pineda, 19. They were discovered in wooded areas in Merrick and Cow Meadow Park in Freeport. Castilla was reported missing in October 2016 and Pineda disappeared in May 2016. Just days before discovering their remains, authorities located the body of 16-year-old Angel Soler after receiving a tip from Homeland Security officials. Soler’s remains were discovered less than five miles from the two other bodies — and all three teens' bodies were recovered within the span of nine days,” writes Fox News.
Including the three teens, there have been 25 deaths linked to the MS-13 gang in the long Island area in the last two years. The island is believed to be the home of 1,100 MS-13 gang members and the gang has committed at least 22 murders within the last year.
In October of 2016, 35 MS-13 gang members were arrested in Long Island after going on a killing spree.
But the gang hasn’t only been wreaking havoc on this small island, it has grown into an international threat and has been linked to violent crimes across the country and even has a presence in Central America and Canada.
There are an estimated 10,000 MS-13 gang members nationwide, many of which are here illegally.
"MS-13 functions like all immigrant organized crime groups. They start by targeting their own community," said Lou Gentile, a former officer at the Organized Crime Unit of the Pennsylvania State Police to Fox News. “MS-13 preys on their own, they exploit their own.”
The MS-13 gang, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, originated in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s. Since then, the gang has spread across the country and is especially prevalent in New York, New Jersey, D.C., Virginia, Texas, and the Carolinas. MS-13 also has international cliques.
In California, federal and local law enforcement arrested 21 MS-13 members in May and have 50 warrants out for the arrest of MS-13 members in more than 50 locations.
In Virginia, three MS-13 gang members are awaiting trial for the violent stabbing of a 15-year-old girl, which was all caught on film for the MS-13 leaders in El Salvador. There are an estimated 2,000 MS-13 members currently operating in the state.
Due to Texas’ close proximity to Central America, there are an estimated 500 members of MS-13 in the Lone Star State. These MS-13 cliques, in particular, have close ties to Mexican drug cartels.
“Cartels sometimes reach out to gang members to commit violent crimes on both sides of the border. The relationships between certain gangs and cartels fluctuate based on cartel structures and cell alignments, gang alignment with specific cartels, threats or coercion, and familial ties,” according to a DPS report. “As long as illicit cross-border crimes are profitable, the relationship between cartels and gangs will continue.”
MS-13 gang members are notoriously known for their tattoos and vicious acts of cruelty. Their motto is “mata, viola, controla” or “kill, rape, control.” They aim to commit murders that are personal and because of this the MS-13 has been dubbed “the most dangerous gang in the world.”
Surprisingly, drug trafficking isn’t the gang’s focus, instead the MS-13 makes the majority of their profit in sex trafficking and prostitution.
In October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to rid the streets of the gang.
Both President Donald Trump, Sessions, and most recently, Virginia Republican Ed Gillespie, have pointed to the MS-13 as the reason why stricter immigration policies need to be implemented.