NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Eight alleged New York City gang members are now facing charges.
They’re accused of taking part in shootings, and what investigators describe as sophisticated financial crimes. Among their victims were Uber and Lyft drivers, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
Aaron Heredia, 21, was escorted into a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday to answer multiple charges in what prosecutors say was a wave of gang-related financial and violent crimes.
The defendants are Heredia, Akeyle Baker, Daijon Crawford, Zykeith Fearon, Tahari Pritchard, Kelechi Ogidi, Delroy Salmon and Dorien Alexander. They were described as members of the 20-30 Crew or 30 Block, connected to crimes, including an infamous shootout.
On Sept. 21, 2020, bullets were exchanged by members of rival gangs inside a Bronx car dealership. Three of the bullets struck a father who was not an intended target. He shielded his children with his body.
Police said the same group of suspects knew guns and violence and also sophisticated financial schemes.
“The gang activity that we’re seeing in our counties is often intersected with an economic aspect of grand larceny and cyber crime,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said.
The cases against the eight unraveled with a single call to 911 from a ride-share driver. Police say the suspects would order Ubers or Lyfts and ask drivers to borrow their phones. They would then transfer money from the drivers’ accounts connected to apps and deposit it in to their accounts.
“The goal is to make money and further their lifestyles and terrorize the neighborhoods and we’re not gonna stand for it,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Prosecutors say the financial and cyber crimes did not end there. They allege the gang members also took money intended for the needy in the pandemic.
The investigation uncovered social media photos of cash and Postal Service money orders, with the men getting identified when they went to turn stolen money into cash, Carlin reported.
“Their greed lead to their undoing when their identities were uncovered through the cashing of money at various post offices and other financial institutions,” said Blanca Alvarez, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s acting assistant inspector in charge.
“I will not let people destroy the Bronx bullet by bullet,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said.
“Dangerous gangs like the 20-30 Crew contribute to the decay of our neighborhoods by terrorizing the community with their violent acts,” added Rick J. Patel, Homeland Security Investigation New York deputy special agent in charge.
City, state and federal investigators combined resources, prompting Commissioner Shea to call the bust precision policing at its finest.