Chelsea IrizarryDec 7, 2017, 6:12 pmDec 8, 2017, 12:35 pm

Police: MS-13 stopped from kidnapping, killing 16-year-old

Officials arrest 5 who allegedly tried to lure teen into van

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BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (AP) - The attempted kidnapping of a 16-year-old boy who authorities say was targeted for murder by the MS-13 street gang was foiled by police officers in a Long Island town that has been the epicenter of gang violence in recent years, police said Thursday.

Three known gang members and two MS-13 associates, including four Brentwood High School students, were arrested on Wednesday not far from the school after police say they attempted to put the teenager in their van, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said.

The attempted abduction was witnessed by plainclothes officers who intervened and made the arrests at gunpoint. All five of the suspects are from El Salvador and three, including one teenage girl, entered the United States under the unaccompanied-children program, Sini said. The other two were in the United States illegally, he added.

The suspects pleaded not guilty at their arraignment on conspiracy charges on Thursday and ordered held on $500,000 bond.

MS-13 has been blamed for at least 25 killings since January 2016 across a wide swath of Long Island.

Earlier this year, both President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Long Island with promises to help law enforcement stem the violence.

Numerous officers were patrolling in Brentwood on Wednesday after police received information a day earlier that three 16-year-old boys were accosted by a group of young men traveling in a van, Sini said. Two of the 16-year-old boys were hit with baseball bats, but were not abducted. Sini declined to disclose details about their confrontations.

"We do believe they were looking to elevate their status in the MS-13 community by carrying out that murder," Sini said at a press conference.

Police in Nassau and Suffolk counties have made hundreds of arrests of suspected MS-13 gang members in the past year.

Several 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.

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