NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than a hundred suspects have been charged in the Bronx in what is believed to be the largest gang takedown in New York City history, authorities said Wednesday.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and other law enforcement officials announced the charges against 120 alleged members and associates of two rival gangs.
The early morning raid involved hundreds of law enforcement officers from the NYPD and federal agencies, some using helicopters and armored vehicles to round up the suspects.
Officials said the alleged gangs are the Big Money Bosses, or BMB, and the 2Fly YGz, or 2Fly. Bharara said they “allegedly wreaked havoc on the streets of the Northern Bronx for years by committing countless acts of violence against rival gang members and innocents alike.”
“We bring these charges today so that all New Yorkers, including those in or near NYCHA public housing, can live their lives as they deserve: free of drugs, free of guns and free of gang violence,” he said.
Since 2007, officials said the turf war between the two groups has led to shootings, stabbings, slashings, beatings and robberies.
“If you were in the wrong place at the wrong time you could be shot, stabbed, even killed,” Bharara said.
One of the victims includes 92-year-old Sadie Mitchell, who was killed by a stray bullet that went through her home’s window on 224th Street near White Plains Road in 2009, authorities said.
Another involved a 15-year-old boy who Bharara said was “stabbed and left to die in the street.”
The indictment also alleges “the defendants knowingly committed the narcotics trafficking offense within 1,000 feet of: (1) playgrounds… (2) public and private elementary, vocational and secondary schools,” CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
Authorities said 2Fly mainly operated in and around the Eastchester Gardens housing development selling drugs including marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription pills and would store guns at the playground or in nearby apartments or cars.
BMB primarily operated on White Plains Road from 215th Street to 233rd Street selling marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription pills while storing guns in abandoned homes and other places near their drug spots, authorities said.
Homeland Security Chief Angel Melendez said one of the gang’s leaders was 24 years old, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
“I saw 24 years old and it’s important to note, that is the average age of both these gangs,” he said.
Bharara has also launched a civil investigation into living conditions at all NYCHA housing, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
The arrests were welcome news to Bronx residents.
“It’s best for the neighborhood,” one woman told Grymes. “We want to have a nice, clean, non-violent neighborhood.”
Bronx Councilman Andy King called the takedown “a major hit” and said “that’s what we need.”
“Anytime you take down that number of people and you remove them from the community, yeah we’re looking for a little bit more peace in the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re expecting this summer to be that much more calmer.”
King also said the arrests send a message, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
“Young men need to realize that if you want to be a part of the neighborhood, there’s better ways to invest in your communities without hurting your communities,” he said. “There are a lot of young people who are relieved right now that they don’t have to be stressed out by having to interact or be terrorized or threatened.”
An 18-year-old had been arrested in connection with the 2009 shooting death of Mitchell. During questioning, investigators said Jamal Blair admitted to firing a gun during a turf war in the neighborhood.