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Cuomo Announces Plan For 'High Intensity Gang Unit' Ahead Of Sessions' Long Island Visit

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The gang violence problem on eastern Long Island has drawn the attention of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions will speak on violent crime, gangs and MS-13 during an appearance in Central Islip on Friday.

Authorities suspect MS-13 members are behind the killings of four young men who were found dead in a Central Islip park earlier this month. 

Last week, Sessions announced the Justice Department will crack down on violent gangs, saying they "represent one of the gravest threats to American safety."

This will be the first time Sessions will be on Long Island since he was installed as the nation's top law enforcement officer.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared in Brentwood on Wednesday, with a stark message.

"We are going to have the state police of New York set up a high intensity gang unit," he said.

Rep. Peter King has also told Suffolk County residents that he'll hold Congressional hearings on the topic.

The MS-13 gang, also called Mara Salvatrucha, is believed to have been founded as a neighborhood street gang in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s by immigrants fleeing a civil war in El Salvador.

According to the FBI, the gang is present in almost every state and targets younger recruits to grow its membership.

"I want the governor to come into here because a lot of gang here," Rafael Quinteros said. "I would like to see the president. I worry because I want safe."

On Long Island, gang violence has been a problem in Central Islip, Brentwood and other communities for more than a decade, but Suffolk County police and the FBI began pouring resources into a crackdown following a spike in homicides last year that were blamed on gang violence.

"They will provide intelligence, electronic equipment, state of the air surveillance equipment, vehicles, aviation, etc. to combat exclusively gang violence," Cuomo said, calling MS-13 members "thugs." 

The gang's alleged victims have been left mutilated -- murdered with machetes and baseball bats -- sparking fear, anger, sadness, and cries for justice.

"Not like they are out on the street, they in school," Ana Junta said.

Lawmakers assured residents those cries would not go unheard.

"What this gives our community is hope that all levels of government are working together to help facilitate. Everybody is on board to make sure our families are taken care of," Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez said.

"The extra resources allow us to be in more places at once," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini added.

Sessions plans to begin Friday, with a trip to the Central Islip Federal Courthouse.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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