BETRAYAL IN BRENTWOOD?

A former member of MS-13 who believed that helping police take down the deadly gang would help grant him asylum in America is instead facing deportation by the same ICE unit he helped. For him, deportation is likely a death sentence in a nation dominated by the gang.

Aired on April 6, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> A NEW REPORT FROM PRO PUBLICA SHOWERS PEOPLE COOPERATING WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S ANTI-GANG STRATEGY ARE NOW PLACING GANG INFORMANTS IN JEOPARDY.

A FORMER GANG MEMBER DECIDED HE HAD HAD ENOUGH AND TURNED HIMSELF INTO THE POLICE.

HE THEN AGREED TO BECOME AN INFORMANT AND PROVIDED IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON MS-13 MURDERS WITH THE HOPE OF BEING GRANTED AMNESTY.

BUT NOW HENRY IS NOW FACING DEPORTATION FROM THE SAME I.C.E.

GROUP HE HELPED.

[ SPEAKING SPANISH ]

AND JOINING US NOW IS THE JOURNALIST WHO SPEARHEADED THE REPORT FOR PRO PUBLICA, AMANDA DRYER.

WHAT A STORY.

LET'S START WITH HENRY'S STORY FROM THE BEGINNING.

HOW HARD WAS IT FOR HIM TO GROW UP IN EL SALVADOR AND WHAT WAS HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MS-13?

HIS PARENTS GAVE HIM UP WHEN HE WAS A TODDLER AND THEY WENT TO LONG ISLAND AND THE GANG WAS THE ONLY SUPPORT HE COULD GET FROM EL SALVADOR, THEY GAVE THEM FOOD, THEY GAVE HIM SCHOOL UNIFORMS SO HE COULD GO TO SCHOOL.

AND FROM THE TIME HE WAS 9, HE WAS IN THE GANG.

AND HE SAID THAT WHEN HE WAS 12, HE HAD TO COMPLETE THIS FINAL INITIATION RIGHT WHERE THEY TOOK HIM TO A COCONUT GROVE WHERE A MAN WAS STRUNG UP AND THEY POINTED TO THE MAN AND SAID YOU HAVE TO KILL THIS MAN OR WE'RE GOING TO KILL BOTH OF YOU.

SO HE TOOK A MACHETE AND HELPED TO KILL THIS MAN.

AT 12 YEARS OLD?

THE SALVADORANS HAVE CONFLICTS BECAUSE THERE'S SO MANY SALVADORANS, WHAT THEY ALSO HAVE IS THE MS-13 GANG.

HOW DID HE FALL BACK INTO THE GRIP OF THE MS-13 GANG?

HE HAD THIS ONE GREAT YEAR IN BRENTWOOD, HE SAW THAT THE GANG WAS THERE, LIKE YOU SAY, THE GANG IS VERY PRESENT IN BRENTWOOD AND LONG ISLAND.

BUT NOBODY RECOGNIZED HIM.

NOBODY RECOGNIZED THAT HE HAD BEEN IN MS-13.

NO, NOBODY RECOGNIZED, SO HE WAS ABLE TO BLEND IN AND BE A REGULAR KID FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE.

BUT IN HIS SOPHOMORE YEAR, ANOTHER KID FROM THE SAME CLIQUE IN EL SALVADOR CAME IN AND RECOGNIZED HENRY AND THAT WAS THE END.

HENRY TOLD YOU HIS WHOLE LIFE STORY AND HE DESCRIBED IN DETAIL SOME OF THE OPERATIONS, YOU ALREADY TALKED ABOUT THE MURDER WHICH WAS VERY GRIZZLY.

WHAT SHOCKED YOU THE MOST ABOUT WHAT HE TOLD YOU?

HENRY GAVE ME HIS CELL PHONE AND I WAS ABLE TO LOOK THROUGH YEARS OF TEXTBOOK MESSAGES AND FACEBOOK CONVERSATIONS AND REALLY GET A SENSE OF HOW THE GANG REALLY OPERATED.

AND WHAT I WAS SURPRISED BY IS THESE ARE TEENAGERS.

THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE BEING MURDERED AND TALKING ABOUT BEING ARRESTED BY FEDERAL PROSECUTORS AT THE SAME TIME, THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT GIRLS AND THIS GANG THAT THEY'RE OBSESSED WITH.

AND IT'S CLEAR THAT THEY'RE DOING THE WORK OF THESE INSECURE HORMONAL TEENAGERS.

DECIDING TO LEAVE MS-13, THAT IN ITSELF CAN GET YOU KILLED.

NO, IT'S FOR LIFE.

BUT DECIDING TO INFORM ON THEM, WHAT IS UNBELIEVABLY DANGEROUS.

WHAT MADE HENRY DECIDE TO DO THAT?

WE HAVE TALKED TO SOME OF THE DETECTIVES THAT HENRY SPOKE WITH BACK WHEN HE BECAME AN INFORMANT HIS JUNIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL.

AND THEY WERE SURPRISED THAT HE WAS TALKING WITHOUT HAVING CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST HIM.

USUALLY PEOPLE TALK BECAUSE THEY'RE TRYING TO SAVE THEMSELVES, THEY'RE TRYING TO GET A REDUCED SENTENCE.

HERE HENRY JUST VOLUNTEERED.

HE DIDN'T CAN COMMIT ANY CRIMES IN THE UNITED STATES, HE JUST WANTED TO TALK.

IN A SENSE HE WANTED GETTING OUT OF THE GANG, SO HE TALKED TO THE FBI, THINKING THAT THAT WAS GOING TO LEAD HIM TO BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF THE GANG IN A SAFE WAY.

AND THE SCHOOL THOUGHT THAT'S WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.

EVERYBODY SORT OF THOUGHT HE WOULD BE OKAY IF HE TALKED TO THE FBI.

AND OF COURSE INSTEAD, THE FBI DIDN'T PROTECT HIM AND ALL OF HIS INFORMATION ENDED UP IN THE HANDS OF I.C.E.

IN ADDITION TO TELLING THEM ABOUT WHAT HE HAD DONE, HE ALSO TOLD POLICE ABOUT WHAT THE GANG WAS PLANNING, HE HELPED THEM CONNECT GANG NAMES WITH REAL NAMES.

HE TOLD THEM WHO THE GANG WAS PLANNING TO KILL NEXT.

AND HIS FBI GANG TASK FORCE HANDLER LATER SAID THAT HE GAVE OVER THE NAMES OF TWO PEOPLE THAT I.C.E. WAS ABLE TO ARREST.

SO TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT, HE HELPED THEM, BUT INSTEAD OF THE AMNESTY THAT HE THOUGHT HE WAS GETTING, WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM?

ONE DAY AGENTS CAME TO HIS DOOR, HE THOUGHT HE WAS THE FBI AND IT WAS NOT, IT WAS I.C.E.

THEY ARRESTED HIM AND PUT HIM IN JAIL.

HE TALKED TO SOME MS-13 GANG MEMBERS, AND I GUESS SOME OF THEM, DO THEY KNOW HE WAS AN INFORMER?

THEY KNOW WHO HE IS.

AS SOON AS HE GOT TO THEIR HIGH SCHOOL, THEY CALLED HIM BY HIS GANG NAME.

SED.

YES, BECAUSE IT MEANS SAD IN SPANISH.

AND THEY CAME OVER TO HIM AND STARTED ASKING HIM HOW HE HAD GOTTEN THERE, WHAT POLICE HAD ON HIM.

HE'S SEEKING AMNESTY, AND IF HE DOESN'T GET IT, HE'LL BE SENT BACK TO ELS SALVADOR HE WILL BEA DEAD MAN WALKING?

THERE'S A CHANCE THAT HE'LL GET LEGAL STATUS HERE, BUT IT'S LOOKING VERY, VERY BAD AND HE KNOWS THAT.

WELL, LET'S HOPE FOR THE BEST FOR HENRY.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR BRINGING THIS TO LIGHT.

IT'S A VERY IMPORTANT STORY, HANNA.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

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