NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s been a major gang bust in New York City Wednesday.
The NYPD has arrested 13 alleged gang members believed to be responsible for at least 20 shootings, and some of their victims are innocent bystanders.READ MORE: 'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' Wins Big As Broadway Celebrates The 74th Annual Tony Awards
CBS2’s Ali Bauman rode along with the police squad for a television exclusive look inside the takedown.
Bauman was there Wednesday morning when police arrested five alleged gang members, all between 15 and 21 years old.
A 13-man indictment charges a years-long conspiracy.
As a result of this takedown, police were able to take 17 guns off the street.
As Bauman reports, at 5 a.m. in Harlem, the NYPD’s Violent Crimes Squad strapped on their bulletproof vests, gearing up for the gang takedown.
Deputy Chief Brian McGee prepared the dozens of officers heading out to arrest five suspected members of the “Chico” gang. Nine others in the 13-man indictment are already in custody.
“They’re a violent gang. Their main motive is to benefit the gang by violence,” McGee said.
Bauman rode along with the squad to the Wagner Houses, where they went into one apartment building with shields and rams. As some detectives kept lookout at the exits, the squad stepped into a dark stairwell.
The squad conducted two warrants in Harlem this morning.
Minutes later, Jasier Mitchell, 20, and his brother Jamique Mitchell, 19, were walked out in handcuffs.
“They knocked, we waited 20 seconds and someone came and opened the door. We announced our presence and we announced why we were there,” McGee said.
The suspects’ parents and younger siblings were also home.
“What were they doing during all this?” Bauman asked.
“They were asleep,” McGee said.READ MORE: Police Seize 7 Vans Allegedly Used As Airbnb Rentals In Manhattan
The arrests wrapped up as the sun rose and families started their day.
Investigators say these hyper-focused warrants are precision policing in action.
“There are so many good people out of the Wagner Houses,” McGee said. “And it’s the small amount of people doing the crime and violence out there.”
Back at the precinct, police also brought in 20-year-old Melvin Williams, who was arrested at the second search warrant location.
“I’m innocent,” Williams said.
This case links 21 shootings back to the Chico Gang, most of them rival gangs in Harlem. According to the indictment, 12 people were shot as a result, including four innocent bystanders.
“A major gang takedown in Manhattan North,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Months and months of patient, careful work went into taking a number of criminals off the streets.
Investigators began building the case in January, 2020.
“They comb through a lot of social media,” McGee said. “When people get arrested, we take their cell phones, do search warrants on their cell phone. We’re able to see what’s going on with their phone connectivity.”
Recovered from the apartments: A firearm, two 30-round capacity magazines, a bag of synthetic marijuana, and a bag of heroin.
Unfortunately, this is not the Chico Gang’s first takedown.
“They actually did a case takedown of this gang probably three years ago, and its gonna continue,” McGee said.
“How do you prevent the younger kids from stepping in to fill that void in the gang?” Bauman asked.
“The answer is I don’t know,” McGee said. “I think if a kid had an outlet to go get a job and have a good education and good family structure, I think that would help a lot. Its unfortunate. Do I think this is going to end a 13-year-old from becoming a gang member? I can’t say that, and I don’t think that’ll happen. Do I think this and with the help of everyone here in this room… do I think that will help? Yeah, I think there may be several other kids from the Wagner Houses saying there’s no way I want part of that.”MORE NEWS: Woman Accused Of Telling Black Couple At Brooklyn Dog Park, 'Stay In Your Hood'
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on August 18.