MS-13 gang member
"El Recio" (The Tough One or The Hard One), 32, a former leader of the Mara Salvatrucha or M -13 gang, poses during a photo session at Comayagua jail in Honduras, 11 June 2011 Reuters

New York Congressman Peter King says gang violence is not the only issue involving the deadly street gang MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha. The Republican representative claims a federal programme that places unaccompanied minors who cross into the US illegally with guardians is being exploited by the notorious gang.

"Intelligence is showing MS-13 is getting families in communities like Brentwood and Central Islip on Long Island — either threatening the families or paying the families to volunteer to take these kids, and HHS [Health and Human Services] sends the kids into these neighbourhoods," King said, according to Fox Business.

MS-13 has been blamed for the brutal murder of four teenage boys in Central Islip last week, as well as a spate of other murder on Long Island. One of the victims was allegedly targeted by the gang after he tried to drop one of his friends who was a MS-13 member.

"Of recent MS-13 arrests in Suffolk County, which is my district, more than 70% of them are of these unaccompanied minors," King said. The congressman added that more than 4,000 minors have entered the area in the past two years.

According to Fox News, King explained that the programme was created to "mainstream" the unaccompanied minors into American society. "That was a false dream," he said. "The reality is ... many of them, a significant number, are terrorising the neighbourhoods which they are in."

Attorney general aims to 'destroy' gang

King said he spoke to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the office of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who are "now making this a top priority".

In an interview on Fox News' The First 100 Days, Sessions was confident law enforcement could remove the violent gang from the streets of the US. The attorney general said his department would join forces with the Department of Homeland Security to target MS-13's money laundering, violence and prostitution "regularly and consistently".

"Our goal is to destroy this. To dismantle it," Sessions said, calling it a "top priority".