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Cuomo Targets MS 13 'Thugs' With State Troopers In Long Island Schools

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- New York State Police are being sent into public schools on Long Island to combat what Governor Cuomo called 'communities under siege.'

The governor was in Central Islip on Wednesday, to roll out the new unit.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, Cuomo's visit came on a sad anniversary. It was a year ago Wednesday, that two teenaged girls were viciously attacked and murdered. The discovery of their bodies kickstarted a war on the gang MS 13.

Enter a new force of fighters.

"They are thugs who have to be stamped out and attacked on every level," Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo took aim at what he called 'domestic terrorists,' the MS 13 gang. He's sending state troopers into Suffolk County schools -- a breeding ground for recruitment.

"That's where they recruit. That's where they intimidate. That's where they meet, in the schools," he said.

New York State Troopers will be assigned to gang prevention -- one to each of Suffolk County's most gang embattled schools.

Troopers will educate the educators in identifying early warning signs and teach kids the dangers of being involved with a gang.

"Students could come to the state police officer and say, you know confidentially, 'I've been bullied and I don't know what to do,'" Cuomo explained. 

Kayla Cuevas had no one to go to with her fears. After months of bullying, she was savagely killed over a petty argument with MS 13 members.

"It was hard for her, at one point she didn't trust anyone in the school," Kayla's mother Evelyn Rodriguez said.

Her grieving mother was at Central Islip high School for the governor's announcement.

"I like the idea, you know to show that law enforcement is there for our kids," she told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall. "If they need help, the law enforcement is there."

"I just want to make sure our kids are safe," she added.

Gang violence in Suffolk has claimed 17 lives since 2016, unleashing a very public crackdown including a presidential visit, a congressional hearing, 270 arrests, and 110 MS 13 members deported.

Police Commissioner Tim Sini said that's progress, but prevention is key.

"It's all hands on deck. We are working with literally every agency and every level of government to eradicate MS 13 from our communities," Sini said.

The governor said Suffolk can't fight this scourge alone.

"This is a crisis and the entire state wants to help you in this crisis," Cuomo said.

State troopers are already beefing up gang patrols of parks and Suffolk County neighborhoods. They'll be deployed to schools immediately.

Cuomo also said he will introduce a comprehensive package of anti-gang legislation when lawmakers reconvene in January.

The districts getting state troopers in school are Brentwood, Central Islip, Huntington, Longwood, South Country Central, and Wyandanch.

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