NEW YORK—Law enforcement in the state of New York conducted the largest gang bust in the United States involving MS-13, where almost 100 gang members were taken into custody, as announced during a press conference by prosecutors on Friday, December 20.

After a two-year investigation conducted by both local and federal law enforcement in Suffolk County, 96 MS-13 gang members and associates were charged with multiple crimes including murder, conspiracy, drug distribution, and assault. Those arrested were between the ages of 16 and 59, including U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants. The arrests were made Thursday and Friday morning.

MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, recruits young teenagers mainly from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The gang is believed to have originated in Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s as a way for Salvadoran migrants to protect themselves from other Los Angeles gangs. The gang has been blamed for countless deaths and are based in Los Angeles, New York, Maryland, and Washington D.C. MS-13 is known for its cruelty, including the beheading its victims and killing pregnant women, specifically girlfriends of former gang members.

During the investigation, authorities recovered drugs in gang members’ possession including cocaine and fentanyl, as well as handguns and more than $200,000 in cash. Suffolk County is on Long Island, where the Salvadorian gang is thought to have attempted to establish a base for the gang on the East Coast.