Several reputed Bloods gang members accused of drug trafficking in Binghamton have been indicted on similar charges in the Bronx.
After a two-year joint investigation prompted by shooting incidents, Bronx County prosecutors on April 9 charged 63 gang members and associates known as “MacBallas” in a 109-count indictment. Among them: John Melville, Chad Edwards, Juan Pena and Brian West, who had been arrested March 26 and charged by federal prosecutors in Binghamton with drug trafficking.
The Bronx County indictment charges multiple counts of conspiracy to traffic in illegal narcotics, such as heroin, crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, and the prescription drugs Oxycodone and Percocet, prosecutors said. Gang members were involved in drug sales in the Bronx, Chelsea, East Harlem, Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Binghamton, prosecutors said.
Bronx County prosecutors declined to comment on specific alleged criminal activity for defendants in their case. The criminal conspiracy dates to 2009.
“Our indictment is separate, but it is related to the case by the U.S. Attorney,” said Melvin Hernandez, a spokesman for the Bronx County district attorney, in a statement. “Our investigation is continuing, and additional arrests are expected.”
Court papers related to the federal case provided details of the defendants’ alleged roles in Binghamton-area drug trafficking.
Edwards, 31, of Binghamton, was the suspected leader of the gang’s Binghamton group, and Melville, 29, of the Bronx, was a high-ranking gang member based in the Bronx who delivered the Binghamton group “high volume” quantities of drugs, court papers said.
Pena, 30, of Binghamton, was a close friend and associate of Edwards and ranked second-in-command of the Binghamton group, and handled money-related issues, court papers said. His Binghamton residence was also a suspected storehouse for drugs.
In addition to drug trafficking, the 63 accused gang members charged in the Bronx are charged with conspiring to commit two murders, four attempted murders, a kidnapping, several assaults, home invasion robberies and burglaries, as well as criminal possession of firearms on numerous occasions, prosecutors said. Those incidents allegedly took place in the Bronx and New York City area.
According to authorities, the Bloods gang started on the streets of Los Angeles during the 1970s and have since spread to include separate sets around the country.
In Binghamton, the gang’s activities came under the notice of law enforcement in March 2012. Federal prosecutors said the Binghamton gang used firearms including handguns to commit assaults, shootings and to threaten others as part of the drug trafficking conspiracy.
While police documented multiple drug transactions involving the Binghamton-area defendants during the investigation, federal prosecutors charge drug possession in generalized amounts: at least 280 grams of crack cocaine, 5 or more grams of cocaine, 100 grams of heroin, and 100 kilograms of marijuana.
The Binghamton investigation ended March 26, with 14 arrests and arraignments in federal court.
In April, Binghamton city officials also shuttered 17 East, a nightclub on Clinton Street that investigators said was a center for the gang’s criminal activities.
The Bronx County charges are punishable by up to 25 years in state prison.
If convicted of the federal charges, the defendants could be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum term of life behind bars.