Officials: Suffolk police have not verified that detained teens are MS-13

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While dozens of suspected MS-13 members have been swept off the streets of Suffolk in recent months, the ACLU says some of them – including three Suffolk teens – are being falsely accused of being gang members.

Those three teens have been detained in California for months. Officials with one of those centers in Yolo County say the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and local agencies, like the Suffolk County Police Department, have failed to provide follow-up documentation to verify the teens are gang members.

"Obviously, we don't want to hold a kid in there that really doesn't have any verification," says Brent Cardall, the chief probation officer in Yolo County. 

Yolo officials say the end result would be putting those teens into group homes that, in their words, are "not secure."

Bryan Johnson, who represents one of the three detained teens, says Suffolk police and other law enforcement needs to do a better job providing proof the detainees are linked to gangs.

A spokeswoman for the federal Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the Refugee Resettlement Office, has said the agency does not comment on specific cases.

In a statement to News 12, Suffolk Commissioner Tim Sini says, “Anyone the SCPD is detaining as MS-13 is MS-13 and certainly presents a danger to Suffolk communities."

The statement goes on: "I understand that we are being very aggressive in our policing against this gang and there are going to be some civil rights groups who are going to complain, but I have a job to do. We have an obligation to keep Suffolk safe. And we are using all of the tools in the tool box. If we don't have a criminal charge, it is better to remove these people from Suffolk County than do nothing.”

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