Suffolk DA Sini announces formation of new gang unit

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HAUPPAUGE -

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini announced Wednesday the creation of a new unit to combat gang activity.

The unit will be made up of local, state and federal investigators and attorneys. Sini says their job is to specifically prosecute all gang-related crimes, including those committed by MS-13.

The unit is an effort to crack down on MS-13 and to help keep the streets safe, according to Sini.

"We are going to be strategic in our prosecution of gang members. We are going to devote the necessary resources to eradicate violent street gangs from Suffolk County," Sini said.

Sini said the unit will hold biweekly meetings with representatives from every police department in Suffolk County, as well as New York State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, ATF and the FBI.

Sini also reminded residents there is up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of gang members. 

The unit will consist of one full-time supervisor, eight assistant district attorneys and six detective investigators. 

It will also prosecute unrelated crimes, such as domestic violence, that may be committed by a suspected gang member. Immigration attorney Bryan Johnson says that's concerning because he says Suffolk officials have failed to define what constitutes a gang member.

"The gang unit in the Suffolk Police Department, along with HSI, has resulted in many innocent kids being labeled gang members," said Johnson. "If law enforcement are prosecuting everyone they think is a gang member, then the immigrant community are not going to want to cooperate with the police on more serious crimes, because they're afraid they'll be labeled a gang member."

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