Gov. Cuomo announces $18.5M to combat MS-13 recruitment

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Brentwood Wednesday to announce that $18.5 million will be going toward cutting off MS-13 recruitment and providing youth programs to prevent gang involvement on Long Island.

According to the governor, $16 million will support the expansion of after-school programs, case management services and job opportunities for vulnerable youth. Funds will also be allocated for community and local law enforcement initiatives to prevent gang involvement.

The other $2.5 million will go toward supporting the Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative and SNUG outreach – which combats gun and gang violence.

"New York will not tolerate the monstrous acts and fear that MS-13 has brought to our communities, and by focusing on educating and protecting our young residents, we are furthering our efforts to drive out these violent criminals," Gov. Cuomo said in prepared remarks.

The announcement comes one year after the discovery of four teens slain in a Central Islip park. News 12 reported that the victims – Michael Banegas, Jefferson Villalobos, Jorge Tigre and Justin Llivacura – were lured to the park by two females, who tipped off MS-13 gang members to their location. They were then killed with machetes, knives and wooden clubs, according to federal court documents.

Three suspected MS-13 members were arrested for that attack.

The governor was also on Long Island for the one-year anniversary of the killings of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens in Brentwood. Their deaths are also believed to be at the hands of MS-13. During that visit, the governor announced that state troopers would be physically deployed to 10 Long Island school districts, including Brentwood. He also said that state troopers would be used to educate the educators on gang prevention.

When News 12 asked Gov. Cuomo if the troopers had been deployed, he responded, “I don’t know where they were deployed. That I don’t know.”

The governor's office later clarified that the teacher training has begun, but acknowledged the state troopers are not yet deployed in the school buildings.

Evelyn Rodriguez, the mother of Kayla Cuevas, called the battle against MS-13 “a long road.”

“I know things don’t happen overnight, but at least we have a start.”

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