Five years after Donald Trump vowed to end MS-13’s brutal rule on Long Island, NY, Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. is doing just that. But it’s also apparently urging one of the country’s most violent gangs deeper into a borough of New York City.
Toulon, the first African American elected to the post, is widely credited with stemming the growth of the gang, which had a stronghold in the region for years.
“Information sharing is what’s really helping us shut down MS-13,” Toulon told The Post.
Sharing data on jailed gang members at Yaphank and Riverhead correctional facilities with local police departments and prosecutors has led to the arrests of dozens of the machete-wielding thugs since he took office in 2018, Toulon said.
And he has continued to allow federal agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to have offices in county jails, a controversial practice instituted by his predecessor Vincent DeMarco in 2016.
Toulon, now in his second term, was a Democratic nominee for sheriff in 2017 when Trump railed against the bloodthirsty gang in a July 2017 speech at Suffolk Community College.
And Toulon took those words to heart.
“We will find you, we will arrest you, we will incarcerate you and we will deport you,” the former president said, just three months after MS-13 thugs brutally massacred four high school friends in Central Islip.
The victims — Justin Llivicura, 16, Michael Lopez Banegas, 20, Jorge Tigre, 18, and Jefferson Villalobos, 18 — had nothing to do with MS-13 but pretended to be, showing the gang’s signs on social -Media photos to attract women.
They were allegedly lured to their deaths by Leniz Escober, a 17-year-old named “Diablita” (the little devil).
She is now on trial for murder.
“One of the ways this case was exposed was by monitoring Escobar’s phone calls to her boyfriend who was inside,” Toulon told the Post, noting that Escobar’s boyfriend was a member of the MS-13 gang at a Suffolk County jail was.
“We are constantly monitoring data, interviewing inmates, and sharing that data with our law enforcement partners.”
He said working with ICE and focusing on intelligence gathering has resulted in more MS-13 inmates in Suffolk County jails.
“When I started, MS-13 was the leading gang #4 in our facilities,” he said. “Now it’s #2,” with 23 members being held.
But Toulon’s decision to work with ICE angered some Democrats and civil liberties advocates, who feared he would again demand that federal immigration officers obtain warrants — a time-consuming task — when they wanted to arrest an inmate scheduled for release from the district.
“The assumption was that Errol would end the incarceration requests and require ICE to go through the lengthy process of obtaining a warrant,” said Curtis Sliwa, a gang pundit and Republican who ran for mayor of New York City last year ran. “He said, ‘ICE will be in my prisons so they can take care of MS-13 directly.’ That sent shockwaves all over Long Island.”
The result is that many MS-13 members have moved to Queens from Suffolk County, Sliwa told The Post.
He said when the NYPD tried to take the same action and contacted ICE in Queens, they were “punished immediately.” Mayor Adams has “ordered all local city authorities not to be involved with ICE at all, which is a shame since ICE has the resources to track down the gangs,” Sliwa said.
Toulon said he works closely with Suffolk County Undersheriff Kevin Catalina, a former NYPD deputy chief and commanding officer of the department’s Intelligence Bureau, who joined Toulon’s staff in August 2018.
“For a long time, MS-13 has operated in Suffolk County with impunity,” Catalina, 54, told The Post. “After Trump and others shone the spotlight on the issue, law enforcement hasn’t backed down.”
Shortly after taking over as sheriff, Toulon traveled to El Salvador to consult with law enforcement about the gang, which began among Salvadoran migrants in Los Angeles in the 1970s and now has cells across the United States. It was, he said, an eye-opening journey.
“I really got a better understanding,” he explained.
Toulon was shocked to learn that 78 Salvadoran police officers had been killed by MS-13 in the first four months of 2018. He also learned that gang members practice torture to send a message to their rivals to stay away from their territory.
“We were able to develop a good relationship with them,” Toulon said, “and consult with them about what we found in Suffolk County.”
He had plans to travel to other Central American countries to forge similar alliances, but the COVID pandemic prevented him from leaving the country. He is now rescheduling these trips.
Toulon’s overarching goal is to build a nationwide network for sharing information on incarcerated MS-13 members that would allow him and Catalina to trace gang connections between Suffolk County, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
For Toulon, it’s all part of the promise he made to his constituents when he first ran for office in 2017: “We will not back down when it comes to protecting this community.”
https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/ny-sheriff-is-driving-down-ms-13s-long-island-gang-presence/ The New York Sheriff takes down MS-13’s gang presence on Long Island