NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Authorities have made the seventh major drug bust in Harlem in the past year and a half.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell On The Story

19 members of two seperate drug gangs – “20 BLOCC” and “Flow Boyz” – were indicted for running crack cocaine in the playgrounds and other parts of the Wager Houses and Taino Towers.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said an open air drug market in East Harlem has been effectively closed down.

These defendants, said Vance, held their neighborhood hostage for three years, dealing the drugs in front of children and even even in front of a community center.

“By working with the NYPD and NYCHA, we are doing our part to make New York safer neighborhood by neighborhood. It is my hope that this case will help return the community to its residents and families,” Vance said.

“The arrests of these gang members, who dealt drugs in front of children and other residents of the Wagner Houses and Taino Towers, is an example of what NYPD officers do each day to improve the quality of life in East Harlem and other neighborhoods in our city,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “I commend the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD’s Manhattan North Narcotics Bureau for their fine work throughout this investigation.”

Undercover officers made dozens of crack buys to build a case against the defendants.

Police Organized Crime Control Bureau Chief Anthony Izzo said the dealers thought they were immune from law enforcement, but the arrests proved them wrong.

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