Two Women Will Be Decisive in LI Fight Against MS-13

With their victories in Tuesday’s election, Laura Curran, who won the Nassau County executive seat, and Laura Gillen, who will be Hempstead’s next town supervisor – the first Democrat to occupy the position in the century since the position was created – have become the “point women” in the fight against gangs on Long Island.

Curran, who made history by becoming the first woman who will hold the Nassau County executive position, was the target of strong criticism on the part of her opponent Jack Martins. The Republican said Curran was tepid when it came to planning strategies to combat the much-feared Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang and other criminal groups operating in the county.

Curran’s team, however, said that, contrary to what the candidate’s Republican rival alleged, the legislator did discuss gang violence publicly during her campaign and even asked outgoing County Executive Edward Mangano to hire more police officers to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic and gang activity.

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Joselo Lucero, the brother of Marcelo Lucero, killed by a group of white youths in 2008, said that Curran and Gillen’s victories will bring relief to a community unfairly linked to gang violence.

“President Donald Trump’s administration has used the crimes committed by MS-13 as an excuse to persecute innocent youths and families across the state and the nation. Curran and Gillen’s administrations will signify [the beginning of] a new era for Long Island residents, and we trust that their public safety policies will no longer violate the fundamental rights of immigrants,” said Lucero. “We saw how Curran’s rival used the widespread fear of MS-13 as a political tactic and how he associated all Latino residents with this gang. That is the type of practice we are not be willing to tolerate on Long Island. Not anymore.”

Latino youths, the most affected

Curran’s team said that she is convinced that more work needs to be done within the community in order to eradicate gang violence in Nassau. For those purposes, she will seek the collaboration of the county’s 56 school districts, particularly because the victims were high school students.

Since 2016, 26 violent deaths have been linked to MS-13 on all of Long Island, six in Nassau and 20 in Suffolk.

In Nassau County, 12 Latino youths, six of them with known ties to Mara Salvatrucha, are still reported missing, said the authorities.

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Residents of the area say that Laura Gillen, supervisor-elect of Hempstead – one of the towns in Nassau County – is another key official in the fight against gang violence.

The supervisor’s responsibilities include presiding over town board meetings and leading the council’s legislative and administrative functions. The position also involves creating and implementing the town’s budget. Moreover, the supervisor has a say in all modifications to the town’s administrative code and other norms and ordinances related to public safety.

In June, 41 suspected members of the gang, all between 15 and 30 years old, were arrested during a raid carried out in Hempstead, Roosevelt and Uniondale. Federal authorities said that 17 of the people arrested entered the U.S. as “unaccompanied minors.”

“Gillen understands that indiscriminate persecution is not the right way to combat gang violence in our communities; her agenda is not punitive. She explained her intention to guide herself by progressive values in dealing with the situation, respecting the rights of all residents regardless of their national origin,” said Martín Alvarado, a 21-year Hempstead resident who volunteers for a number of community programs. “Hempstead is no longer the quiet, peaceful suburb we used to know. We are seeing MS-13 activity. The gang is a topic that weighed heavily on Tuesday’s election.”

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