MS-13: A predator in our midst that we are unaware of


In the diverse world we all live in, we go along with our jobs, our daily routines, our television shows and our other diversions.

While we do, there are other worlds, other agendas that whirl about us like planets around the Sun, and we are unaware of their very existence until we collide with them, sometimes fatally. Many who live in suburban Nassau County believe that the gang crime is an urban problem and that they are insulated from it by living away from a large city, but they are not., In fact, one of the major centers for what federal law enforcement agencies consider the most vicious and brutal gang in the world — Mara Salvatrucha, better known simply as MS-13 — is the Town of Hempstead and its environs.

As the editor of the Queens weekly, The Wave, I covered crime and particularly gang crime almost every week. It is a staple in New York City newspapers, even community weeklies. I had little knowledge of MS-13, but in 2009 it collided with my consciousness in a big way, and the invasion of the turf that was held by a number of local drug gang was from Nassau County. In fact, it was the Hempstead branch of MS-13 that came, guns blazing, to Rockaway just prior to Christmas in that year. The gang decided it wanted to take over the drug business from the traditional Rockaway salesmen, the Crips, the Bloods, the Rockaway 40 Boyz and the GIB (for get it in bricks, as in Cocaine). Several locals were shot dead on the streets, one on the way to buy milk for his baby. There was a drive-by shooting that killed two and wounded six others on a corner in the major Far Rockaway shopping area just before Christmas. At least some of those who were wounded were not gang-bangers, but the MS-13 shooters did not seem to mind that fact that some bystanders doing some pre-Christmas shopping were shot as well. They just shot up everybody in sight, dealers and shoppers alike.

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