Sessions cites cooperation between local, state, and federal authorities to stamp out gangs; advocates for border security and immigration reform to keep criminals out of the country.
Central Islip, NY – April 28, 2017 – In the wake of a surge of violence, death and drug trafficking related to street gang activity in suburban America, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Long Island on Friday, April 28 to offer his support in what he referred to as a new offensive against the criminal element in our country.
Held at a press-only event at the Federal Courthouse in Central Islip, the high-security affair involving Sessions saw only select members of the media and local government admitted; an area on the courthouse lawn was cordoned off for protestors to gather, most of who decried the Attorney General’s pro-deportation stance for illegal immigrants.
At the press event, Sessions addressed the rise of deaths on Long Island and other areas due to the activity of gangs such as the infamous MS-13, a mostly Central-American group originally hailing from the streets of Los Angeles, California and now found throughout the United States. Noting that he had come that day at the behest of Congressman Peter King (R-NY), Sessions promised to ‘eradicate’ these threats to the safety of honest, law abiding citizens nationwide.
“Congressman King called me and said ‘we've got a problem here I want you to know about...let's see if we can do something about it.’ He asked me to come to Long Island, and it was an honor for me to do so,” he said. “I think that the situation that you're facing here is too much like other cities in America…honestly, it's probably even more acute here, and the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring safety by utilizing classic law enforcement techniques to reverse the flow of crime in America.”
Sessions said that, after a 30-year decline of crime in the country, a scourge of illegal activity was once again on the rise; it was something that he, in his capacity as U.S. Attorney General, plans to nip in the bud.
“We had an 11 percent increase in murders in 2015…that's the highest increase of murders in over 40 years,” he claimed. “We're seeing more drugs, more deaths... we are in a situation that requires those of us in law enforcement to re-evaluate things, and it's time for us to call on our political leaders for support and affirmation in the work that our people do everyday, work that's often very dangerous.”
In his quest to bring criminals to justice, Sessions also acknowledged the great responsibility that law enforcement has to work within the confines of the rules, and said that he would be just as harsh on the small percentage of officers who fail to live up to that standard as he would criminals on the street.
“I want to express my sincere appreciation for those of you in law enforcement for what you do…police officers do their best, daily,” he said. “However, it's a stressful job and people make mistakes, and sometimes even people in uniform are not good people. I will stand firm for civil rights and the protection of American citizens, and I will not accept bad policing. But 99 percent of our officers are the kind of people that we should validate and affirm, and that's what we're going to do.”
Sessions noted that April 28 marked the 99th day in office for the Trump Administration; he said President Trump gave him three Executive Orders - specifically relating to crime - to help to make America safe again.
“The first Executive Order our President gave me was to reduce crime in America,” he said. “The second order was to demolish trans-national criminal organizations, which this group MS-13 and other gangs that we see are. The third order was to support and affirm our brave men and women in blue.”
Sessions confirmed that he spoke personally with the President regarding a number of recent Long Island-based deaths, with many of these horrific crimes directly connected to local MS-13 gang activity.
“President Trump talked to me personally about the murders that you've seen here of young people recently... this September, two teenage girls were beaten to death using a baseball bat and a machete. Earlier this month, police in Central Islip found the bodies of four young men, ranging in age from 16 to 20. They'd been murdered and their bodies were dumped in a park. One of these young men was an honor student who had refused to associate with the gang, apparently,” he said. “Gang violence has been in the headlines right here on Long Island, and my team and I are going to do a better job of confronting it. Groups of murderers, rapists, traffickers and thugs are carrying out a frontal assault on the rule of law...they must not be allowed to take control of a single city block or street corner. We're not going to let it happen.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with local law enforcement, had previously dealt serious blows to gangs such as MS-13 throughout the years; however, Sessions noted that recently such organizations have been coming back to the forefront of criminal activity in the United States, and said that what the Department of Justice did once, it can do again.
“We know we can hammer them again, and we will do that very thing,” he said. “It will require state and local officers on the front lines, because they get the information first, but sometimes our federal officers who have no jurisdictional limitations... if we work together, I believe we can dismantle these gangs, and that is going to be one of our top priorities.”
Sessions seemed shocked at the genuine brutality displayed by the members of MS-13, and said that law enforcement would combat them with equal fervor.
“The MS-13 motto is ‘Kill, Rape and Control.’ That's their motto, so that should tell us enough about the kind of group we're confronting,” he said. “Now our motto is going to be ‘Justice for Victims, and Consequences for Criminals.’ That's what we're going to do...we will prosecute gang members who commit crimes to the fullest extent of the law, and after they've been convicted, if they're not here lawfully, they're going to be deported.”
The Attorney General advocated measures to keep young people away from drugs and street activity as deterrents to involvement in gangs; in addition, he cited a secure border to Mexico as a major way to cut off the criminal element from entering the United States, claiming that the majority of gang members come from Southern American areas. But, more than anything else, Sessions gave a warning to the members of MS-13 and their ilk- that their days are numbered.
“I have a message for the gangs that are targeting our young people,” he said. “We are targeting you. We are coming after you. If you are a gang member, we will find you; we will devastate your networks, starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks, and seize your profits. In addition, we will secure our borders and restore a lawful system of immigration. We will not concede our territory to Illegal gangs.”