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Nassau Police Making Strides In Crackdown On MS-13 Gang

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There has been an arrest following the discovery of human remains last weekend in the Massapequa Preserve on Long Island.

The teen is believed to be yet another victim of the MS-13 gang.

But as CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday, police say they're gaining ground on the lethal gang.

The Nassau County Police Department says an alleged gang member in handcuffs is a mark of progress in the relentless pursuit of MS-13.

Stanley Gerson Juarez, 22, of Hempstead, his gang nickname "Angel Black," was charged in the machete death of Bryan Lemus, who went missing nearly three years ago. His remains were found Saturday in a shallow grave in the Massapequa Preserve. Perceived to be a gang enemy, police said, Lemus, who was from Uniondale, was lured into the woods and marked for death at just 18 years old.

"They're violent animals that go out, they take their own from their own communities. They hack them, stab them, decapitate them, cut their limbs off and bury them in shallow graves," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Web Extra: Nassau County Police Announce Arrests Made In Death Of 18-Year-Old Bryan Lemus:

But police say their dogged pursuit is paying off, as evidenced by record-low MS-13 recruitment rates and 25 arrests in the gang-related killings committed back in 2016 and early 2017. Seven of those bodies were dumped into shallow graves around Long Island, including at the Massapequa Preserve - a pristine paradise turned into a killing field.

"We do not believe there is any, any other remains in that preserve from MS-13. All of the information that we have to this date says that we have arrested and found all 12 of our victims," Ryder said.

MORE: Human Remains Found In Nassau County Wooded Area Believed To Be Gang-Related

It has been a relatively quiet 22 months. There has been just one MS-13 gang killing and an arrest already made. Police are calling it tangible progress.

"MS-13 does not belong in Nassau County and we will make sure that these barbarians are behind bars," District Attorney Madeline Singas said.

Police said multi-agency intelligence led them to the Massapequa Preserve, where investigators dug through vegetation and marsh land in hunting down evidence to yield closure in the case. Their message to others wanted in connection with Lemus' killing: Beware, we are coming for you.

The defendant, Gerson Juarez, has already pleaded guilty to attempted murder of three teens earlier in 2016.

Lemus' body was found near where police found the remains of 18-year-old Julio Espantzay-Gonzalez in 2017. Three reputed MS-13 members have been charged in Espantzay-Gonzalez's death.

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