New York police arrest 103 alleged gang members after four-year probe
Charges arising from turf war are largest such indictment inthe history of city
New York police swooped through parts of Harlem arresting dozens of alleged gang members locked in a violent turf war, in what officials described as the largest such indictment of gang associates in the city's history.
In all, 103 people from three gangs - 3Staccs, Make It Happen Boys and Money Avenue - faced conspiracy, attempted murder, gang assault and weapons charges in connection with two homicides and 50 other shootings, officials said.
Some of those charged were already in the city's jails and were accused of using social media to plot their rivals' deaths and to boast of their own prowess.
"The many law-abiding members of the communities afflicted by this violence are now walking on safer streets," said police commissioner William Bratton.
The charges stemmed in part from an investigation into the 2011 murder of Tayshana Murphy, an 18-year-old school basketball star, who was shot in September 2011.
Her murder came after a long evening of fighting between the gangs, prosecutors said at the time.
Tyshawn Brockington, 24, and Robert Cartagena were convicted of Murphy's murder and sentenced to between 25 years and life in prison. But investigators saw the killing as part of a pattern of violence around two public housing projects in West Harlem, the Manhattanville and Grant houses.
"The deadly and dangerous feud between the Manhattanville and Grant houses dates back decades," said prosecutor Cyrus Vance. "In the last four years, it has escalated into a bloody turf war marked by violence for the sake of violence.
"Prosecutors and investigators analysed more than 40,000 calls from correctional facilities, screened hundreds of hours of surveillance video, and reviewed more than a million social media pages."
According to the indictments, since 2010 the defendants attempted to kill one another, bought illegal firearms and ammunition and physically assaulted rivals. The goal was to protect the gangs' territories from rivals.
The defendants allegedly used hundreds of Facebook posts and direct messages, cell-phone videos, and calls made from Rikers Correctional Facility - the city's jail - to plot the deaths of rival gang members.
"Gang members also used social media to publicise and claim credit for acts of violence and publicly disrespect and denigrate rival gang members," it was charged.