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Gangs taken off the street in East Harlem

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 5/23/2013, 3:43 p.m.
A major gang bust in East Harlem has taken 63 gang members off the street....
Gangs taken off the street in East Harlem

A major gang bust in East Harlem has taken 63 gang members off the street. Members from gangs including Air It Out, True Money Gang and Whoadey are responsible for 3 murders and more than 30 shootings, as well as assaults, firearms possession and gun trafficking, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

The three separate indictments charge multiple counts, including conspiracy in the first degree, a class A-I felony, as well as conspiracy in the second, third and fourth Degrees, attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and attempted gang assault in the first degree.

The first- and second-degree conspiracy charges are based on conspiracies to commit murder in the second degree. The third- and fourth-degree conspiracy charges are based on conspiracies to possess firearms.

"Since October 2009, 68 shootings have occurred in the swath of East Harlem that these gangs call home. Forced to live among this senseless violence is the silent majority--innocent families who live in fear of getting shot while trying to go about their daily lives," Vance said. "Today's cases are a part of my office's ongoing efforts, working with the NYPD, to strategically target areas that claim a highly disproportionate share of violence in Manhattan."

As detailed in the indictments, the defendants used hundreds of Facebook and Twitter posts and direct messages, text messages, cell phone videos and calls made from Rikers Correctional Facility to plot the deaths of rival gang members. Gang members also used social media and prison phone calls to traffic firearms and ammunition and to warn each other of potential law enforcement action.

Between approximately October 2009 and March 2013, two gangs, True Money Gang and Whoadey, allied together against a third, Air it Out, for the purposes of protecting their territory and avenging shootings and murders committed by one group against another.

As charged under the conspiracy, the defendants in all three gangs attempted to kill one another and bought, sold and possessed firearms and ammunition.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the department believes that taking the gang members off the street is key in the reduction in gun violence in the city. Kelly added that the shooting death and near-fatal shooting of two members of True Money Gang in 2009 resulted in retaliatory violence over the next three years, which resulted in two more homicides and 10 other shootings.

"Social media remains a double-edged sword in our crime-fighting strategies. It is used by crew members to brag about past crimes, taunt rivals and incite violence," he said. "On the other hand, we use social media to document past crimes and intercept new ones being talked about openly by crew members on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube."