News

Police Take Down Violent Bronx Gang That Used Facebook To Recruit

Facebook (file / credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook (file / credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ten members of a street gang in the Bronx have been indicted, in connection with multiple shootouts on the streets, and a recruitment campaign that targeted children as young as 14 through Facebook.

Ten alleged members of the Walton Townsend Gang, commonly known as WTG, were hit with conspiracy to commit murder, assault, and drug and weapons charges.

Nine leaders of the gang were arrested Wednesday in the Eden section of the Bronx, and one more in Duluth, Ga., authorities said. Among those arrested were all the members of the “Top Five” leaders in the gang – Shaquille Holder, Taury Wells, Joshua Colon, Dominique Boyd, and Raiquan Brundidge – as well as five second-tier leaders known as “Big Homies” – Ronald Davis, Winston Williams, Jarrell Daniels, Shaun Deleon, and Darren Bird.

The Top Five allegedly ordered shootings, assaults and other acts of retaliation against rivals, controlled communal firearms, and recruited new members – among them juveniles. The WTG gang made money selling guns and drugs – including cocaine, PCP and marijuana – and by collecting cash payments from new recruits, police said.

The gang controlled an area of 170th and 174th streets between Grand Concourse and Jerome Avenue, police said. They engaged in shootouts with rival gangs, including Dub City – which operates on 175th and 177th streets between Walton and Jerome avenues, and the Eden Boyz, who operate along 170th Street between Mount Eden and Jesup avenues, police said.

WTG members made extensive use of social media and developed their own jargon to communicate on Facebook. They also posted photos on Instragram, police said. The gang used Facebook as a primary means of recruitment, police said.

New recruits were required either to put up money for communal firearms or buy a gun themselves to join the gang, police said. Minors as young as 14 and 15 were asked to transport and store guns so the higher-ups would not get arrested, police said.

“If yuk an western union me 125 right now you can be WTG under me and b official,” Holder allegedly told a prospective gang member son Facebook.

In another message, Williams told another prospective gang member: “yu need 100 to put toward da pot for gloks (firearms) n yu need to be approved by da top 5.”

Defendants Holder and Williams, as well as Davis, were charged with criminal recruitment in connection with the Facebook activity.

The gang members also allegedly used Facebook to plan and discuss shootings, police said. In one exchange last year, defendant Colon wrote a message to defendant Brundidge saying he was planning to retaliate against Dub City for using a gun that had been stashed in defendant Holder’s apartment.

“We a go,” Colon wrote, “Grip in boogz set fully loaded like a BB.”

“Grip” is jargon for a gun, while “Boogz” was Holder’s nickname.

The gang allegedly followed through with their planned shootouts.

Defendant Daniels was charged with the near-fatal shooting of an alleged Dub City member, Dramel Elliott, in a confrontation on Walton Avenue last year. Daniels allegedly shot and wounded Elliott after getting his face slashed by a Dub City member.

Defendants Boyd and Wells were charged in another shootout this past September on a busy stretch of 171st Street at Jerome Avenue. The shootout, which was captured by multiple surveillance cameras, targeted members of the Eden Boyz, police said.

Police released the surveillance clips as a YouTube video.

No one was wounded in the September shooting, but numerous innocent pedestrians and motorists could have been hit, police said.

New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said it is time to get violent gangs off the streets.

“For too long, this community has been terrorized by gang members whose primary allegiance is to their guns. They steal, sell drugs, and take initiation fees from young recruits – all with the goal of buying more guns, which they use with reckless disregard for human life,” she said in the release. “When WTG was settling a dispute on Jerome Avenue, no one was safe – from innocent passersby to neighborhood shopkeepers. With today’s arrest of the gang hierarchy, those who stoked the violence have been taken off the street.”

Do you think Facebook should do more to prevent uses such as gang recruitment? Leave your comments below…