FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The remains of three young Hispanic men found in recent weeks in wooded areas of suburban New York are likely the latest victims of MS-13 gang violence, authorities said Tuesday.
The FBI released the names of a 16-year-old Javier Castillo and 19-year-old Kerin Pineda. Both were found late last month in Merrick and Freeport, after being reported missing more than a year ago. Days earlier, police acting on a tip from Homeland Security officials, located the remains of 16-year-old Angel Soler in a wooded area of Roosevelt, less than five miles from where the other two bodies were located.
A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said all three are suspected victims of MS-13 gang violence. The official was not authorized to speak publicly because of an ongoing investigation.
Pineda’s mother, Lillian Oliva, told Newsday that Nassau County police told her Friday that the remains of her son had been located and that a positive DNA match confirmed Pineda’s identity. “It’s very bad. I can’t believe this happened,” she said.
Their discovery makes 25 suspected MS-13 victims on Long Island during the past two years.
The killings, many of which have involved teenagers, have caught the attention of President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Both have both visited Long Island in the last six months to promise federal action to stem the violence.
Police in Nassau and Suffolk counties have been making dozens of arrests of suspected MS-13 gang members in recent months.
Many of the killings are being prosecuted by federal authorities, who say many of the suspects are in the country illegally.
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.