Last week, another crew of MS-13 gang bangers were taken down for what federal prosecutors call the “brutal murder of a 17-year-old teenager who was stabbed dozens of times and left to die in a park in Lynn,” just as the ACLU was taking jabs at Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, the department’s first black top cop, one beloved by rank and file cops, for calling them “paper warriors.”

The term was applied to the ACLU’s lawsuit against the BPD Boston Regional Intelligence Center [BRIC] that claimed the department was unfairly profiling young unaccompanied alien children as gang bangers.  One of the teens the lawsuit referred to had been wearing a Chicago Bulls hat to school, had been arrested for having a knife, had a MS-13 tattoo “503,” the area code for El Salvador and blue and white bandana. With the ACLU’s help he got a green card last year.

A month later, federal prosecutors said, that teen, “Perverso,” and five other MS-13 homeboys were the killers who stabbed their fellow gang member to death as he begged them to stop.  Perverso, the same teen the ACLU said was the victim of racial profiling, is now facing federal murder charges.

Oops.

This is why Commissioner Gross is right. The ACLU does not understand the true threat MS-13 has posed to our public schools, to our communities, and most importantly to undocumented immigrants who are preyed upon by MS-13 gang members as they collect “rent,” essentially extortion, from the most vulnerable.  Those who don’t pay, like one businessman in Chelsea told me, could end up like him, tossed from a second-floor window and left with permanent injuries.

In my neighborhood of East Boston alone there have been at least a half-dozen teenagers murdered by MS-13 in recent years, including Blanca Lainez, a beautiful 17-year-old who fled the gangs in her native El Salvador only to meet “Crazy” a MS-13 leader, not long after enrolling at East Boston High School. Before long she moved in with Crazy in a MS-13 “destroyer house” for aspiring killers across the street from East Boston High. Then, shortly after his arrest as a target in Operation Mean Streets, the case I am profiling in my book, Blanca was lured to an East Boston garage and, allegedly, beaten to death beyond recognition by two of her classmates with a propane tank. She was killed, police believe, for dating a fellow Salvadoran who was in the 18th Street gang, a relationship she chose primarily for a place to live.

There was another MS-13 victim found chopped by machetes in the football stadium behind my Eastie condo one Christmas. Another was discovered stabbed repeatedly at Constitution Beach, his body photographed by the BPD with the backdrop of swimmers in the distance, a startling crime scene picture that federal prosecutors entered into evidence. Then there was the 15-year-old in a red Mickey Mouse T-shirt chased down an East Boston street after school by a MS-13 member whose moniker was “Animal.” Animal stabbed him to death in front of dozens of horrified onlookers, one of whom watched him die as she was on with 911.

At Animal’s sentencing this year, both his mother and the mother of his victim embraced, crying, both having lost their sons to gangs.

Another teen was surrounded by MS-13, stabbed and shot in Eagle Hill, screaming for help as he took his last breaths. I wrote about a kid lured to his death after he was “catfished” by MS-13 posing as a pretty girl. That victim wrapped his arms around his killer thinking he was being picked up for a date on a moped. He was chopped to pieces instead. And those are just the killings that I can remember, ones that were part of the trial that I covered connected to the federal takedown dubbed Operation Mean Streets.

The FBI, State Police gang unit, Boston Police, Chelsea PD, ICE, and countless other partners, in the North Shore Gang Task Force – along with friends of mine who teach in affected public schools – know all too well the threats that are leveled against teenaged unaccompanied alien children who escape unimaginable violence in their homelands in Central America’s Northern Triangle, undergoing treacherous journeys to get here, only to be confronted with the very same threat in their new high schools in Chelsea, East Boston, Everett and Lynn. MS-13’s leadership, La Ranfla, has become so sophisticated they are sending their killers into US public schools to recruit these young newcomers, which is one of the reason’s the gang maintains its designation as a “transnational criminal organization,” the same term the State Department uses for terrorist groups.

The ACLU’s lawsuit threatens to undermine an important tool to identify MS-13 recruiters, ones like “Tremendo” who operated out of Chelsea High School, who was sentenced to life in prison this month for the murders federal prosecutors charged him with. By identifying MS-13 recruitment teams the BPD and other partners are helping save kids who don’t want to make that awful choice, join or die, or be forced to pick a side, MS-13 or 18th Street.  Anyone who doesn’t believe the schools are the breeding grounds should read testimony from MS-13 informant “Clacker” who testified about how he met Tremendo after two MS-13 members approached him in the Chelsea High School cafeteria within days of his arrival with slick rap videos glorifying La Mara. Check the transcripts. Confirm it with the US Attorney’s Office.  These are the real stories of MS-13.

Who knows if Perverso started as a MS-13 member – of became an alleged killer after being confronted with extortion, threats, or force, to join. Or maybe, like many MS-13 members, he is a born psychopath. Either way, we need to pay attention.

Hopefully people maligning Commissioner Gross will take the time to explore the record, to hear the tears of the victims’ loved ones and the terror on the faces of the young murderers under indictment. As prosecutors said in the indictment: “Each of the defendants either (a) previously committed a felony, (b) entered the United States unlawfully, (c) and/or was released from immigration custody prior to their indictment and arrest in this case. Each of the defendants has been identified as a verified member of MS-13. A key operating principle of MS-13 is to attack and murder suspected gang rivals, and to attack and murder those suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.”

Michele McPhee is an American author, talk radio host, and journalist from Boston, Massachusetts. You can follow her on Facebook here.