The commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department in New York was unambiguous last week when he drew a line in the sand after receiving two credible threats that MS-13 was gunning to execute a police officer.
Commissioner Patrick Ryder said his department as well as neighboring Suffolk County, another hotbed for MS-13 activity, is taking the threat seriously. But rather than cower, Ryder said his department will not only be more vigilant, it will be even more diligent to put pressure on those who would do them harm.
“If MS-13 wants to threaten a cop in this county, MS-13 is gonna get an answer,” Ryder said at an April 19 press conference.
In gang parlance, a sanctioned execution is referred to as a luz verde, or green light. Reportedly, the threats include a random assassination of any officer as well as a specifically targeted officer in the village of Hempstead.
Ryder wasted no time in answering the threat by conducting sweeps in gang-concentrated communities, especially Hempstead.
“It will not be tolerated in this county against any of our first responders,” said Ryder. “Whether it’s law enforcement, our police medics, or our fire services. We will answer that threat, and we will answer it strongly.”
Hempstead Chief of Police Michael McGowan said his department will also be vigilant and has incorporated strategies to address the threats, urging officers to not stay stationary in their vehicles for any extended amount of time and to back up each call so that two cars are responding to a location.
James McDermott, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, said this is not just an attack on police, it is an attack on society.
“If they are able to kill or hurt one of our officers, then what does that tell the public?” McDermott asked.
Long Island has been the focal point of government attention against Mara Salvatrucha since President Trump took office last year, particularly in the wake of the brutal murder of two teenage girls in Brentwood, N.Y., in September 2016. Although the gang had been around for more than a decade prior to this homicide, they have been responsible for some 20 homicides on Long Island in two years, which resulted in a swift crackdown by local, state, and law enforcement federal agencies.
Most recently, Miguel Corea Diaz, “Reaper,” 35, the leader of the East Coast Program in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas who would report directly to gang hierarchy in El Salvador, was arrested in Maryland on drug charges and brought back to Nassau County, where he was arraigned in District Court last week on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking. He was being held without bail.
“By arresting the head of the Northeast faction of MS-13, we have crippled MS-13’s operations in both New York and El Salvador,” said James Hunt, special agent in charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
It is this pressure and exposure that is not sitting well with Long Island MS-13 members. In a recent report, officials said members of MS-13 “have been stating that police have been making too many arrests and it’s time to take the streets back and take out and shoot a cop like we do in El Salvador.” Officers of the Policia Nacional Civil, El Salvador’s national police agency, are routinely targeted for assassination and have paid a significant toll in recent years.
An indication of the impact law enforcement is having on the gang’s presence on Long Island is evident by vowing to “take back the streets.”
During one of this week’s sweeps a suspect was taken into custody who had weapons and a mask in his vehicle, intent on carrying out the murder of an officer whose name has obviously not been released.
The dual threats leveled against police appeared to have been concentrated in the Hempstead community after the Hempstead Police Department received reliable information.
This is not sitting well with Ryder.