New York
Gang Investigators Association
"The gangs of today will be the terrorists of tomorrow"


  • Tue, May 28, 2013 9:35 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    YONKERS, N.Y. – A reputed Yonkers gang member faces the death penalty after federal prosecutors say he murdered a rival gang member in 2011.

    Marquis “Smurf” Jones, who is already in federal custody on drug charges, was named Wednesday in a six-count indictment charging him, among other things, with the murder of Carlos Patricio, 28, of Mount Vernon.
    Jones is alleged to have shot Patricio in the head on July 28, 2011, after firing several bullets into a crowd of people.

    Patricio’s death had been labeled as unsolved before Jones was charged Wednesday with use and discharging of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence causing death, a crime that is punishable by the death penalty.
    Also included in the lengthy indictment were drug, weapons and conspiracy charges, each punishable between 20 years and life in prison.

    Prosecutors said Jacobs carried loaded guns while peddling crack cocaine on city streets and robbed other drug dealers, including a November 2011 incident in which he ripped off a Cliff Street drug dealer and shot the man in the stomach, prosecutors said.

    Jacobs was initially arrested by the FBI and Yonkers police on Dec. 2, 2011 and charged with distributing crack cocaine. He, along with three others, was later charged with additional drug and weapons charges along with conspiracy to commit robbery and attempted robbery.

    The other men, Donald McIntosh, Maurice Anderson, and Manny Dossantos, have since pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

    “With the additional charges filed against Marquis Jacobs today, we continue the painstaking process of developing evidence against these marauding groups of alleged gang members and holding them to account,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “This defendant’s alleged catalogue of crimes typifies the gang warfare that is all too familiar and that we are bound and determined to extinguish.”

    Wednesday’s charges come as part of a long-term investigation into the gang activity in the Nodine Hill neighborhood.

    In August 2011, 66 reputed members and associates of the Elm Street Wolves and Cliff Street Gangsters were charged with narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses.

    Four of the Elm Street Wolves were also charged with the murder of Christopher Cokley, who prosecutors say was a leading member of another Yonkers gang, the Strip Boyz. Sixty-three of these defendants have since pleaded guilty, prosecutors said.

    Then, in June 2012, 22 more alleged gang members, including 20 members of the Strip Boyz, were also hit with drug and weapons charges. Ten of these defendants have since pleaded guilty.

    “These ongoing investigations have significantly reduced crime and illegal gang activity in our city and they send a message that there is a heavy price to pay for such illegal actions,” Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said in a statement.
  • Tue, May 28, 2013 9:33 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    Gun death of driver tied to robbery spree.

    The loosely knit gang of teenagers began its robbery spree last December, pointing handguns at taxi drivers and fast-food delivery workers, taking their hard-earned money, authorities said.

    But on March 6, two of the teens allegedly took something money can’t replace: the life of 55-year-old taxi driver Mazen Abdallah.

    Thursday, the gang members appeared in State Supreme Court, indicted on charges that could, if convictions are secured, bring about prison sentences adding up to 270 years.

    Maurice “Quell” Howie, 17, of Hamburg Street, a South Park High School football star previously arrested in the slaying, and Sean Austin, 16, of Emslie Street, were each indicted on two counts of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the slaying.

    Rokym Knox, 19, of Emslie; Dequan Bailey, 17, of Hewitt Avenue; and Devante Wells, 17, of Bickford Avenue, were all charged with multiple counts of robbery.

    “It is principally alleged that this group of defendants, in varying combinations, robbed taxi drivers or pizza delivery drivers at gunpoint, culminating in the death of Mazen Abdallah,” Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said.

    As it turns out, Austin, the youngest of the teenagers, was the most prolific of the robbers, according to investigators, who allege that the teens were involved in the following holdups:

    • Dec. 2, Austin and Bailey robbed a cabdriver and a pizza delivery driver.

    • Dec. 3, Austin, Bailey, Wells and Knox robbed a cabdriver.

    • Feb. 1, Austin and Bailey robbed another fast-food delivery worker.

    • Feb. 9, Austin and Howie robbed a taxi driver.

    Then, in the early morning hours of March 6, after spending a night “hanging out” at a friend’s apartment, Austin and Howie called Airport Taxi requesting a ride to a Bailey-Kensington address.

    Abdallah, who was just starting his work day at about 5:30 a.m., picked up the pair and soon found himself in a struggle for his life, according to police, who believe that he refused to turn over the cash he had.

    “We think he resisted when they demanded his money,” an investigator said.

    Howie then shot Abdallah twice in the back of the head, according to authorities. The teens then placed his body in the back seat of the 2006 white Lincoln Town Car, police say, and parked it in the 700 block of Norfolk Avenue, a short distance from Kensington Avenue.

    A frantic search for Abdallah began when he failed to answer the two-way radio in his cab. His body was found by co-workers at about 7 a.m. A witness on Norfolk would later tell police of seeing two men walking away from the cab earlier that morning.

    Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said the arrests came about from a collaborative effort involving officers and detectives in the South and Northeast districts and the Homicide Squad.

    “This crime spree was put to a halt due to excellent police work,” Derenda said,

    The commissioner and Sedita also credited workers at the Erie County Crime Analysis Center for assisting investigators.

    After Abdallah was killed, Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said, investigators sought help from the crime analysts in looking for patterns involving other robberies of taxi drivers and fast-food deliverymen.

    “Similar methods of operations emerged,” Richards said, “and that led investigators to this loosely knit gang who preyed on vulnerable people in the service industry.”

    The teens were arraigned in front of State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia. Prosecuting the case is Assistant District Attorney Paul A. Parisi, a member of Sedita’s recently established Tactical Prosecution Unit.

  • Tue, May 28, 2013 9:31 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    An alleged gang member from Yonkers known as Smurf was indicted Wednesday on murder charges. Federal prosecutors said he shot dead a rival gang member in July 2011.

    Marquis Jacobs has been in federal custody on drug charges since a December 2011 arrest, but on Wednesday, prosecutors unsealed a new indictment accusing Jacobs of the killing, as well as the robbery of a drug dealer in November 2011, who prosecutors say he shot in the stomach near Cliff Street.

    Carlos Patricio, 28, of Mount Vernon was shot in the head just after midnight on July 28, 2011, police said then, after several shots were fired at a group of people.

    The case had gone publicly unsolved until Wednesday, when Jacobs was charged.

    Prosecutors portrayed him as a key player in the Yonkers gang scene that has flourished in the Nodine Hill neighborhood. Prosecutors accuse Jacobs of selling crack, robbing other drug dealers and routinely carrying guns.

    He was charged Wednesday with robbery, conspiracy and other charges in a six-count indictment, including one charge undefined possession, use and discharging of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence causing death undefined that is punishable by the death penalty.

    Adam Perlmutter, a lawyer for Jacobs, said that he had just seen a copy of the new indictment but added that Jacobs was innocent and that he intended to plead not guilty.

    “We intend to vigorously fight the charges,” Perlmutter said.

    Jacobs was arrested Dec. 2, 2011, along with three other men, who have pleaded guilty to drug charges and await sentencing.

    “With the additional charges filed against Marquis Jacobs today, we continue the painstaking process of developing evidence against these marauding groups of alleged gang members and holding them to account,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

  • Tue, May 28, 2013 9:28 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    Albany, NY

    The longest trial in Albany County history ended Monday night with the convictions of two gang members and a major drug dealer in a ring that peddled heroin and cocaine on Capital Region streets.

    The legal saga, which began Feb. 25 with jury selection before Judge Stephen Herrick, ended in its 13th week around 7:45 p.m. Monday.

    After eight days of deliberation, itself a county record, the jury of six men and six women found Guy Anderson, 35, of Cohoes, known as "Sos," a supplier of the cocaine and heroin, guilty of at least 15 drug-dealing related counts, including being a "major trafficker," which alone carries a life sentence.

    Bloods street gang member Michael "Jigga" Williams, 27, of Albany, and Jamel "Melly Mel" Pearson, 36, a member of the South End-based Original Gangsta Killas street gang, were both convicted of at least 10 counts each of drug dealing-related charges. Williams was also convicted of conspiracy. As persistent felony offenders, both face possible life terms.

    Williams made several lewd comments to an investigator before being escorted from the courtroom undefined and called the cop a "coward" and "devil."

    Jurors acquitted Marquese Johnson, 34, who authorities said has been an OGK member, of all drug charges that ended in a verdict. He walked from the courtroom, where a supporter patted his back.

    The jury did not reach a verdict on five counts in the case, which relied on hundreds of wiretaps. Johnson could be retried.

    The convictions marked the end of a 2012 case brought by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office against 52 defendants, including reputed members of the Bloods and OGK.

    Most of the defendants cut plea deals before the case went to trial. In midtrial, the judge dismissed the charges against two of the defendants undefined Anthony Taylor of Albany and Richard Collier of Glens Falls undefined following arguments by their attorneys.

    The remaining four defendants learned their fate only after Herrick gave the jury an "Allen charge," a last-ditch effort to get a deadlocked juror to reach a verdict, just before 3 p.m. Monday.

    Collier and Taylor's charges were dismissed on May 2.

    "We believed all along the proof against Mr. Collier didn't rise to the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Collier's attorney, Holly Trexler, told the Times Union. "It was the right decision."

    The length of the trial eclipsed the previous record held by the 2007 insurance fraud trial involving six members of the Houghtaling family in Colonie. Jury selection began in that case on March 5, 2007. The jury reached its verdict on May 17, 2007. After five days of deliberation, jurors acquitted three members of the family completely and found not-guilty verdicts on more than 100 counts. Two defendants were convicted of low-level felonies.

  • Tue, May 28, 2013 9:27 PM | Trevor (Administrator)
    SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse Police say a violent street gang, the Lex Ave Midtown Assassins, or LAMA, had a deal, but broke it and now are paying the price. It's all part of the federal, state and local initiative launched this year known as "Syracuse Truce."

    A task force met with several gangs, including LAMA. The gangs were told that if they maintained a truce, various services would be provided to help members find a way out of a life of crime. But if gang related killings continued, the gangs involved would face a massive crackdown.

    On March 10th, authorities say a Lex Ave member shot and killed Daryl Mobley, leading to a month long effort focused on every member of the group.

    “In those 30 days, we arrested 22 members of the LAMA gang. We revoked the parole of one member. We revoked probation of another member. We revoked the federal probation of another member. We had eight LAMA members had their social services benefits revoked because they didn't belong on them,” said Syracuse Police Department Sgt. Thomas Connellan.

    Connellan says searches also led to recovery of weapons and drugs. He says the message to all gangs in the city is that if they break the truce, they can expect a similar crackdown in the future.
  • Thu, May 16, 2013 5:08 AM | Trevor (Administrator)
    A Town of Tonawanda man was convicted Friday of wounding an innocent female bystander when he was trying to shoot a witness in a murder case just after midnight last Aug. 5.

    Eric Smith, 23, a member of the Buffalo chapter of the Rollin’ 60s Crips street gang, was convicted of first-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

    Following a week-long trial before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia, the Buffalo jury of six women and six men deliberated for just over three hours before finding Smith, of Colvin Avenue, guilty as charged in the shooting at Colvin and St. Lawrence Avenues in Buffalo.

    After the judge remanded Smith pending his July 2 sentencing, trial prosecutors Michael P. Felicetta and James R. Gardner said they will urge Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III to recommend the judge impose the maximum-allowable 25-year prison term on Smith.

    Daniel J. Dubois, attorney for Smith, who has been jailed since his arrest last September, said the conviction will be appealed.

    Monday and Tuesday the woman who Smith shot and the male prosecution witness who was the intended target identified Smith as the shooter. The prosecutors and court officials asked the news media not to identify the two witnesses.

    The prosecutors said Smith was attempting to silence a witness against fellows Crips members in the grisly stabbing of 16-year-old Darren Brown during a Crips inauguration ceremony last July 5. The prosecutors said Brown was killed because men wanting to get admitted to the Crips had to first carry out a killing.

    Kentie Crumps, 17, of Young Street, another Crips gang member, faces a still-unscheduled assault trial for his alleged role in the attempted shooting of the prosecution witness, Felicetta and Gardner said.

    On March 18, a jury found Ezeiekile Nafti, 17, guilty of first-degree murder for taking part in the killing of Brown, who was stabbed 54 times before his body was set on fire on an old railroad right-of-way near Colvin Avenue late on July 5, 2012.

    Nafti faces sentencing May 29 before Buscaglia. Felicetta and Colleen Curtin Gable, the prosecutors in the murder case, said Crips gang member Demetrius Huff, 18, who had pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and then withdrew his plea, faces a murder trial before Buscaglia on Sept. 30.

    After the verdict was announced, Sedita said he considered Smith’s “violent conduct linked to witness intimidation efforts to be an affront to the very integrity of the criminal justice system and must be dealt with accordingly.”
  • Thu, May 16, 2013 5:05 AM | Trevor (Administrator)
    ELIZABETHTOWN undefined Jurors found Scott E. Denno guilty on Wednesday of first-degree manslaughter and gang assault in the beating death of Robert M. Rennie.

    Rennie, a father of two young girls, was found dead by the closed iron bridge in Keeseville on the morning of Aug. 26, 2012.

    Denno admitted in court that he was one of three men who kicked Rennie during an attack late the previous night, but he claimed he had used the least force he could.

    The medical examiner had ruled Rennie’s manner of death a homicide, finding the Keeseville man had been beaten and died of internal injuries caused by blunt-force trauma.


    When Essex County Judge Richard Meyer gave instructions to the jury Wednesday morning, he told the jurors they could also consider second- and third-degree assault if the first-degree gang-assault charge did not hold up against the evidence.

    But the 12-person jury did not need to consider further than charges brought by Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague.

    Denno was the first in the courtroom to stand up as jurors readied to enter the courtroom.

    He stood quietly as Meyer invited their decision.

    The moment was tense, a culmination of six full days of testimony in a trial that took more than a week.

    Denno stared ahead, his hands clasped in front of him. He didn’t flinch as the guilty verdicts were read aloud.

    He looked toward the bench as individual jurors were polled, each standing and answering “yes” that he or she agreed with the verdict on both counts.


    Rennie’s family, including his father, Robert J. Rennie, a sister and a brother, also stood steadfast but seemed visibly relieved with the decision.

    The family attended every hour of each day of this trial.

    As he left the courtroom, Mr. Rennie, the family’s spokesman, said they were grateful.

    Speaking softly, he thanked the prosecutors and the jurors for their decision.

    “We’re very glad for the decision rendered,” he said.

    The days of testimony brought the family back through the painful time last summer when Robert was found beaten to death.

    “It is reliving it all over again,” Mr. Rennie said.

    The family will attend the trials of two other men charged in Robert’s death.


    Sprague hugged members of the victim’s family after Denno was taken from the courtroom and the jury had been excused.

    “I’m just glad the jury listened to the instructions and applied them to the evidence presented,” the DA said.

    “I’m really pleased with the verdict.

    The jury was sent to deliberate at about 10:17 a.m. and took just over two hours to reach a decision.

    The verdict was read aloud at 1:12 p.m. when court reconvened from lunch.


    Denno faces a 25-year determinate sentence on the top count, Sprague said. Meyer set the sentencing for 2:15 p.m. June 27.

    The 20-year-old was returned to Essex County Jail without bail pending sentencing.

    He has been held there since his arrest last October along with Michael Rivers and Paul J. Taylor, whose trials in connection with the Rennie case are scheduled later this month and in June, respectively.

    Tuesday, Denno’s attorney, Joe Brennan, had asked the judge to dismiss all the charges; Meyer dropped the weapon charge relating to the footwear Denno was wearing during the kicking attack on Rennie.

    Taylor faces a second-degree murder charge and others for first-degree gang assault and possession of a weapon.


    Chief Public Defender Brandon E. Boutelle said separate attorneys were assigned to defend Denno, Rivers and Taylor due to the potential conflict in individual cases.

    “The (attorneys) were assigned by the Elizabethtown Court when they (defendants) were arraigned,” he explained Wednesday.

    Lake Placid attorney Greg Laduke will defend Rivers.

    And Boutelle is defending Taylor.

    The difference between first-degree manslaughter and a murder charge, he said, hinges on the degree of intent, according to the law.

    First-degree manslaughter reflects an intention to injure someone that results in death.

    Murder is a charge brought against someone who intended to cause a person’s death.


    Meyer explained the first-degree manslaughter, gang assault and lesser assault charges to the jury with instructions that lasted nearly an hour early Wednesday.

    First-degree manslaughter, he said, has occurred when a person acts “with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person … and causes the death” of that person.

    Intent, Meyer explained, does not require premeditation and can be “formed at the very moment a person acts” to cause the result, which in this case, was Rennie’s death.

    Gang assault, Meyer said, is when a person undefined aided by two or more people undefined causes “serious physical injury” that may or may not result in death.

    The jury verdict on each charge must be unanimous.
  • Thu, May 16, 2013 5:04 AM | Trevor (Administrator)
    With names like Cash Money Brothers, Broad Day Shooters, Make It Happen Boyz, Addicted to Green, Da Broadway Bullies and From Da Zoo, gangs are swarming Harlem’s streets with police precincts reporting nearly 30 youth crews in northern Manhattan. Not one to be intimidated, Col. Gregory Collins wants to save the young people of Harlem from the gangs and the death and violence they bring.

    Collins has spent most of his life with the National Guard at the historic 369th Harlem Armory. He came to the Armory in 1978, when he was 14. He is a commander and an officer in the guard. He founded the cadet program, Harlem Youth Marines, in 1982 as a way to save young men and women from the dangers of the streets by using structure, discipline and love to teach valuable life lessons and offer a much-needed sense of family. This valuable program will be displaced as the Armory is slated to undergo some 20 months of renovations. Collins talked to the AmNews about his beloved cadet program and his concern for the fate of his kids.

    “We do something positive for the youth and we support our veterans in whatever they need. We’ve done details for the military National Guard. We are part of that family. Everything about us is about discipline and precision drill. They look to us to carry out some of the functions and to show that they are supporting what we do. They request us to be pallbearers,” he said.

    “I am very much concerned because of what happened to Ackeem Green, my stepson. Last June 3, he was shot and killed in the basketball court at 129th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. while playing basketball. He was 25 and had been with the program since he was 15. He was a mentor and part of the honor guard,” he said.
    Green’s death has made Collins more determined than ever. He recently attended a meeting at the State Office Building in Harlem to discuss the gang violence. The gangs are once again taking over the neighborhood. Goodfellas was responsible for the death of Green.

    “It’s gotten worse,” Collins said. “It’s about turf, colors, nonsense. We are a gang-prevention program. Every time I think about what happened to Ackeem, it bothers me because we can do more. We want to do more, but nobody is paying attention to us,” he said.

    “Every community should have a cadet program. I think people are not educated enough as to what cadet programs are all about. Yes, young men and women are influenced, and if they decide to join the military, that’s the decision they make. We’re not about recruiting kids to go into the military. We’re about structure and discipline. Whichever career path they choose after they finish high school, that’s on them. A lot of them do choose to go into the military and have been very successful. The majority of our cadets go into law enforcement,” Collins said.

    Every precinct in Harlem, as well as the 32nd, 28th, 26th and 30th precincts, all have officers who were once cadets in Collins’ program. Members of the Harlem Youth Marines have been as young as 7 years old. The oldest member is 35. Since its inception, more than 2,000 kids have come through.

    “We start them at 7 and get them to stay through high school. They became good, productive citizens. The Harlem Youth Marines now has chapters in Niagara Falls and in Reading, Pa.,” Collins said.

    The group has enjoyed once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. In 1992, the cadets marched in President Bill Clinton’s inaugural parade. They were also part of the escort honor guards for Princess Maxima of the Netherlands and England’s Prince Andrew.

    The program works. A mother brought in her 10-year-old daughter and complained that she was behaving badly in school. Collins took her right in. Students must maintain their grades as part of the program and Collins checks their report cards. The kids clearly love being part of the Harlem Youth Marines.

    Twelve-year-old Jaisean Crumble of Staten Island is a brand new recruit. He heard about it from his dad, who used to come when he was young. “It’s good. I like how we practice our drills” and learn how to be a leader. Jaisean says he’s learned “how to behave.”

    Fifteen-year-old Gabrielle Castro of Harlem has been in the program for three years. “It gets me off the streets and we do a lot of sports here, and we learn a lot about the military. As we stay in this program, we progress in terms of maturity levels and grades and your personal goals in life. When you get the concept of being in this program, you learn how to act like a real man and become a statistic, but become a good statistic. My grades went from 60s and 70s to 80s and 90s. My average is a 92,” he proudly added.

    Fifteen–year-old Louis Lubin is from France. He and his dad moved to Brooklyn, where he learned about the program. He joined in September of last year and has been promoted twice since then. “So far, it’s been pretty great. It teaches you how to be a leader. Leading by example is the whole idea behind this program,” he said.
    Twenty-year-old Denzel Brown has been in the program for five years. His job is to bring in new recruits. He was in the process of signing up a new cadet. “I’m trying to start a military sports team in Harlem. I want to start at the bottom and work everybody in the team as one, as a family, as a unit. What I want to do for the youth of Harlem is give them a second family. I can build this family new and get the youth off the streets. Today, I’m on duty. Tomorrow, I’ll be on duty recruiting kids. I go out into the streets and playgrounds and schoolsundefinedas many as possible in Brooklyn, New York, anywhere. I go borough to borough to borough and get kids that want to play military sports and learn what we’re about,” Brown said.

    Collins is looking for a new home for the group, because they are soon set to be displaced with the upcoming internal renovations at the Armory. He concedes that finding a new home will be a challenge because the group has no financing and many youth organizations already have their own programs. Losing the Harlem Youth Marines would be a real blow to the kids who depend on it.

    “Funding has always been a challenge because it is wrongly assumed to be a military program, while in fact, it is a cadet program. The program is associated with the military, authorized and recognized by the U.S. Marine Corp, but is not funded by them. This program gets involved in the social dynamics, behavioral problems, school problems and tries to solve them through a program of discipline and structure. Some of those who were most reluctant to join the program have become the most dedicated cadets, wanting more than the once-a-week meeting,” he said.

    “Every block in Harlem has a gang,. I can motivate them. I can dedicate them to educate them,” Collins said. “If a young man or woman can sit still for a block of instructions for 45 minutes to an hour, they can learn,” he concluded.
  • Thu, May 09, 2013 9:14 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

    Tariq “Reek” Brown from the Bailey Boys gang thought he spotted rival gangsters at a picnic in Martin Luther King Park last May. Holding his pistol-grip assault rifle, police say, he sprayed bullets at the crowd of more than 100 people, killing 26-year-old Marquay Lee and wounding four others.

    Street justice demanded swift retaliation. Just hours later, as partygoers spilled out from a Minnesota Avenue house, a suspected associate from the rival LRGP gang fired into the crowd, killing Samantha Cothran, an aspiring 23-year-old pharmaceutical student who had nothing to do with gangs.

    For years, the Bailey Boys and LRGP Crew carried out business at the end of a gun. When someone dared to encroach on turf where each felt they had exclusive rights to sell drugs and rob people, the result was terror and sometimes death.

    Eleven months after the two shootings, police say the Bailey Boys and LRGP are in shambles, the result of an intense effort by Buffalo police, the FBI and federal prosecutors to break the gangs.

    Eighteen members of LRGP and 10 of the Bailey Boys are in jail awaiting trial in U.S. District Court, including Tariq Brown, charged with murder last week in the Martin Luther King Park shooting.

    The campaign against the Bailey Boys and LRGP is the latest front in a three-year war on gang violence in Buffalo. It started with targeting the notorious 10th Street and 7th Street gangs fighting each other on the West Side, then a West Side gang known as the Loiza Boys that attempted to fill the void, and now the Bailey Boys and LRGP.

    In all, 160 Buffalo gang members have been put behind bars over the past three years. The top federal prosecutor calls them “the worst of the worst.”

    Because they are charged or already have been convicted of federal felonies, these gang members face stiffer penalties than under state law. And, as with the Bailey Boys and LRGP, the government has swung its heaviest hammer designed to decimate organized crime – the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

    No one believes the gangs are gone for good. Residents know that dismantling gangs is like a deadly carnival game of whack-a-mole. When one gang is taken down, another pops up.

    But the focus on gangs has made neighborhoods safer. This is how the police took down the Bailey Boys and LRGP.

    Police cooperation

    When William J. Hochul Jr. became the U.S. attorney in 2010, he took his staff on a tour of the city’s worst neighborhoods.

    “We took a bus tour with 15 assistant U.S. attorneys and the clergy. I wanted my staff to have a sense of urgency. It’s one thing to prosecute day in and day out, but it’s another thing to feel the urgency,” said Hochul, who grew up on the city’s East Side.

    Hochul then took a second tour with Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, who had appealed to him for help and also grew up on the East Side.

    “When I took the U.S. attorney on a tour,” Derenda recalled, “a drug dealer approached our unmarked vehicle thinking we were looking to make a buy. He ran when he saw my uniform.”

    Those two also teamed up with the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force.

    They count their progress on the war against the gangs:

    “We have solved 21 homicides to date involving gangs, including killers in the Bailey Boys and LRGP Crew,” Derenda said. “I can think of another 10 to 15 murders where there’s a high probability that they too will be solved.”

    Out in the neighborhoods, there is gratitude that gang members are getting locked up, though it is tempered with reality. And to avoid becoming a crime statistic, they say you need to be viglilant.

    View from the streets

    Consider the plight of Randy Zawadzski, who lives in the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood, home of LRGP, which stands for Lombard Street, Rother Avenue, Gibson Street and Playter Street, which roughly defines the boundaries of the gang’s turf.

    “Three years ago, I got caught in the gunfire. I got shot in the left leg. Fragments from an AK-47 bullet hit me. It was a horrifying experience,” Zawadzski said. “It was a case of mistaken identity. After that, I wouldn’t ever go outside after dark.”

    Another Broadway Fillmore resident said that when he sees a gang coming down the street, he heads indoors. And when gunfire breaks out, he takes added precautions.

    “We have a family ritual in my house. I have four children, and if we hear gunshots, it’s routine to go to the back of the house and lie on the floor,” the father said.

    Mary Chambers said she moved out of the Bailey Kensington neighborhood in 2011 because of gangsters’ warfare.

    “The gangs drove me out. I couldn’t even let my grandkids play on the porch,” said Chambers, who now lives in Cheektowaga. “My house on Shirley Avenue had been shot at three times.”

    It’s no wonder.

    Tempting fate

    Chambers lived on the 200 block of Shirley where Anthony Skinner, a member of LRGP, tempted fate by sometimes staying overnight at a house on that same block right in the heart of the Bailey Boys’ territory.

    Skinner’s affront to the Bailey Boys went from bad to worse. In broad daylight on July 21, 2011, he allegedly shot Rayshod Washington of the Bailey Boys.

    The attack was caught on a city surveillance camera. Mayor Byron W. Brown, who happened to be in the camera room at Buffalo Police Headquarters at that moment, watched the shooting in real time.

    “I was shocked by the total disregard for whoever else was on the street and the fact that he started shooting with a surveillance camera right there,” Brown said. “There was a total lack of regard for human life.”

    Eight days later, Skinner got some payback.

    On July 29, Tariq Brown – the same man charged last week in the Martin Luther King Park shootings – spotted Skinner in a maroon car at the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Orleans Street and began shooting, police say. Skinner survived the attack but just barely. A bullet struck him in the chest.

    That summer of 2011 was a busy one for Tariq Brown, authorities said. In addition to Skinner, Brown also was involved in shootings on Shirley Avenue and at a block club party on Dartmouth Avenue, police said. Residents on the side streets running off Bailey and Kensington avenues were beside themselves. Something needed to be done.

    The investigation

    A couple of fortuitous events occurred in the bloody summer of 2011. Buffalo police and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force began investigating the LRGP Crew, and Derenda had a meeting with a Bailey Kensington block club leader.

    “I met in the evening with the block club president in the living room of Bonnie Russell’s home,” Derenda said of the meeting arranged by University Council Member Russell.

    The block club official, who asked that her name be withheld, recalled telling the commissioner how gang members in Bailey Kensington had taken over street corners outside delis and sold drugs, committed shootings in broad daylight, and intimidated residents to the point that they were afraid to leave their homes.

    “I gave that woman my word we would do something,” Derenda said, who was also worried about the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood.

    He assigned two city homicide detectives to work with the FBI’s task force, which started gaining an inside view of the Bailey Boys and the LRGP Crew by developing sources, making undercover drug buys and receiving intelligence from city police patrol officers and district detectives. They also were listening in on gang members’ cellphone conversations.

    Investigators got an earful, according to FBI supervisory Special Agent James A. Jancewicz.

    They were able to identify an LRGP drug house at 42 Memorial Drive, not far from the historic Central Terminal. Gang member Franklin Richards supplied the house with cocaine, which was then sold to street dealers, police explained.

    More digging determined that Richards obtained his drugs from Earl Brown of Houston, and Brown dealt directly with the drug cartels of Mexico, according to Jancewicz.

    LRGP members, Jancewicz said, were covetous of their turf. If anyone dared to move in on them, they could expect retribution.

    “It’s believed that the gang members made a pact that if anyone else sold drugs in the Lombard, Rother, Gibson and Playter area, they would be killed,” Jancewicz said.

    Advantages of federal charges

    Early in the course of that investigation, he said, the task force also learned that LRGP and the Bailey Boys had been at war for a few years, which helped explain why there were so many shootings.

    But to nail down who was responsible for pulling the trigger and make arrests that would stick in court, a methodical approach was needed.

    “You take a retrospective look and start putting pieces together, dates of shootings, deconstructing piece by piece. The key is actually to have witnesses who will testify. Human beings who will say, ‘I shot that guy’ or ‘That guy was shot for this reason,’ ” Jancewicz explained.

    One of the advantages of making arrests at the federal level as opposed to the state level, Hochul explained, is that individuals charged with serious crimes are usually detained until their charges are resolved, usually at trial.

    In the long months leading up to a trial, time weighs heavy and investigators say there is a greater chance that the individual may end up assisting authorities by appearing before a grand jury and offering testimony that can lead to additional arrests and the solving of other crimes.

    That scenario has played out over and over in the investigation into the LRGP Crew and Bailey Boys.

    In fact, when Tariq Brown was charged last week with the murder of Lee and the attempted murder of four others picnickers, it was part of the fourth superseding indictment against the Bailey Boys gang. And Brown already was behind bars awaiting trial on three other attempted murder charges.

    The same strategy was used in taking down the 10th Street and 7th Street gangs, according to Buffalo Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards, who said such an intense effort was needed because the gangs were so entrenched that they had become “generational.”

    Check back this summer

    Rooting out the gangs has resulted in improvements to West Side and East Side neighborhoods, which authorities say is the end game – to help these neighborhoods make a comeback.

    But in these neighborhoods where the different gangs have flourished for so long, optimism among residents is guarded.

    The Broadway Fillmore father who gathers his children into the back of his house when gunfire rings out says the coming warmer months will tell whether the joint police effort has made a difference.

    “Come back in the summer when it gets hot and crazy,” he said, only identifying himself by his first name, Mark, for fear of making himself a target. “Come back in the summer, and I’ll let you know if there are less shootings.”


  • Thu, May 09, 2013 9:14 AM | Trevor (Administrator)
    Funded with $5,000 from United Way of the Valley & Greater Utica Area, the Oneida County Gang Assessment Coalition will join with the nonprofit Utica Safe Schools to look at the current status of gangs across Oneida County.

    The coalition includes representatives from local police agencies, school districts, government offices and social service entities that help at-risk youths.

    Once this “snapshot” phase is completed in the next several weeks, those results will be used in a more in-depth study of local gang activity and what can continue to be done to keep the gang problem under control.

    “We hears of incidents off school grounds that don’t occur on school grounds because the kids know there’s a good level of adult support and security at schools to keep them safe, and they know there’s a lot of scrutiny,” said James Franco, director of operations for Utica Safe Schools.

    Funded with $5,000 from United Way of the Valley & Greater Utica Area, the Oneida County Gang Assessment Coalition will join with the nonprofit Utica Safe Schools to look at the current status of gangs across Oneida County.

    The coalition includes representatives from local police agencies, school districts, government offices and social service entities that help at-risk youths.

    Once this “snapshot” phase is completed in the next several weeks, those results will be used in a more in-depth study of local gang activity and what can continue to be done to keep the gang problem under control.

    “We hears of incidents off school grounds that don’t occur on school grounds because the kids know there’s a good level of adult support and security at schools to keep them safe, and they know there’s a lot of scrutiny,” said James Franco, director of operations for Utica Safe Schools.

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