NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. authorities staged the largest gang takedown in New York City history on Wednesday, arresting 120 reputed rival gang members and their associates for murder, robbery, drug dealing and other charges, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Those arrested were members and associates of the Big Money Bosses (BMB) and 2Fly YGz (2Fly) gangs.
Victims of the vicious competition between the two gangs have included 92-year-old Sadie Mitchell, who was struck by a stray bullet in her home in the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough, in October 2009.
Nearly 700 federal agents and New York City Police Department officers were involved in Wednesday’s pre-dawn raids in the Bronx, which were part of an effort to make the city’s public housing projects safer for their roughly 400,000 residents amid a surge of violence, Bharara said.
“We bring these charges so that all New Yorkers, including those in public housing, can live their lives as they deserve, free of drugs, guns and gang violence,” he said at a news conference.
The people arrested were charged in two separate indictments, one for each of the two gangs, with racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, narcotics distribution and firearms offenses, officials said. The indictments identify the suspects by legal names as well as by their multiple nicknames, including Zico Nico, Q-Dizzy, Mad Dog and Gunz.
Both gangs, whose members have an average age of 24, operated from playgrounds and abandoned housings, where they stashed drugs and guns, and are accused of passing counterfeit currency to generate income, according to the indictment.
In addition to the Mitchell killing, the BMB gang members are accused in the fatal shootings of Keshon Potterfield, 18, in June 2014, and Jeffrey Delmore, 15, in May 2015.
BMB members also carried out shootings against rival gangs such as 2Fly, the Slug Gang and YSGz based in different Bronx public housing projects with the goal of expanding their criminal operations, officials said.
Members and associates of the 2Fly gang are accused of fatally stabbing Alexander Walters, 17, in March 2012, and fatally shooting Donville Simpson in October 2013.
More charges are expected in the ongoing investigation, Bharara said.
Wednesday’s swoop followed a series of earlier raids on gangs, which resulted in 36 arrests earlier this month at public housing projects in East Harlem in Manhattan and more than 80 arrests last March in the Bronx.
The civil division of Bharara’s office, which serves the Southern District of New York has a separate investigation underway into the often squalid, crime-ridden living conditions of housing projects.
Reporting by Marcus E. Howard; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Leslie Adler
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