Police were desperate for informants. Henry gave them a way in. Now he is marked for death: propub.li/2pVD4G5
They beat him for 13 seconds — an initiation ritual — and asked him to choose a gang name. He settled on Triste, the Spanish word for “sad.”
The gang leader, El Destroyer, showed Henry where to cut: first the throat, then across the stomach.
Before he left, his grandfather made him promise he would use the new start to break with the gang.
Some 200,000 unaccompanied children from Central America have shown up at the U.S. border since 2013, and 8,000 have continued on to Long Island.
But in the suburbs of Long Island, MS-13 had softened its rules. After school, Henry found more than a dozen boys waiting for him in the woods. They beat him for 13 seconds.
In El Salvador, violence seemed necessary for survival. In Brentwood, MS-13 was like any other bunch of bored & anxious teenagers at school, only with machetes.
The exploding violence in the suburbs was mostly aimed at kids who were flirting with gang life.
Henry had enough:
Under normal circumstances, Henry’s choice would have been his salvation. He shared all he knew with a Suffolk County homicide detective:
The police turned him over to ICE:
Henry has been awaiting his final deportation hearing for eight months.
Locked up with the same gang members he informed on.
As a last hope, he agreed to meet with @hannahdreier and shared years of texts & Facebook conversations.