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  • Fri, May 02, 2014 7:38 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)
    Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) - There are more than 300 of them in New York - violent crews of dozens of 12- to 20-year-olds with names such as Very Crispy Gangsters, True Money Gang and Cash Bama Bullies.

    Police say these groups, clustered around a particular block or housing project, are responsible for about 40 percent of the city's shootings, with most of that violence stemming from the smallest of disses on the street, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

    "It's like belonging to an evil fraternity," said Inspector Kevin Catalina, commander of the New York Police Department's gang division. "A lot of it is driven by nothing: A dispute over a girl or a wrong look or a perceived slight."

    The trend of smaller, younger crews has also been seen in Chicago and Northeast cities over the last few years as police have cracked down on bigger, more traditional gangs, experts said. While the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings still exist, operating such money-making schemes as drug dealing, their members are usually older and understand the timeworn mantra of organized crime: violence is bad for business.

    Not so for the crews, whose recklessness prompted former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in 2012 to launch an initiative to confront the crews dubbed Operation Crew Cut.

    Investigators now focus on gathering intelligence about specific crews - understanding their activities, allegiances and feuds which they glean through traditional street policing and trolling of social media sites, cell phone photos and even recorded jailhouse calls.

    Police have also stepped up arrests of the most active crew members. In Manhattan, prosecutors set up an internal email alert system that notifies them when crew member are arrested, even on minor charges, and provides beyond-the-rap-sheet details for bail arguments. The prosecutor might mention that the person was a suspect in another crime or had made threats on Facebook, for instance.

    In a recent case in Harlem, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. says a 2009 killing kindled years of vendetta attacks, including three killings and 30 shootings. Sixty-three people were rounded up, and at least 62 entered guilty pleas, including crew members so young that one told another to "mob up" after school.

    "The evidence was very powerful," said Robert Anesi, who represented a 19-year-old who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and conspiracy charges in the case last week. "They had such access to social media and they knew who the players were."

    NYPD statistics show gang arrests are up citywide nearly 14 percent from 2013 - and more than 28 percent from two years ago. Shooting incidents citywide are about the same as they were last year, with 282 recorded so far, and are down by nearly 23 percent from two years ago.

    Still, crew-related violence persists despite record dips in overall crime in New York City over the last few years. The most notable recent case came in March when investigators say a 14-year-old member of the Stack Money Goons shot a .357 revolver at a rival member of the Twan Family on a crowded bus in Brooklyn. The bullet instead killed an immigrant father who was working two jobs to support his family.

    "When you ask young adults, 'Why? Why did you shoot that young man?' Probably 80 percent of the time the answer is: He disrespected me," said Kai Smith, an ex-con-turned-businessman who runs a gang-diversion program in city high schools.

    Smith works with students who have been arrested at least once, forcing them to define what disrespect means through exercises and role-playing.

    Jamal Williams, 18, a high school junior, says he's been affiliated with crews and gangs since he was 9, though he's trying to turn his life around.

    "A crew to me is a family," he said. "They are going to be there for me like my parents was never there for me."

    As more crew members are locked up, investigators are noticing a trend of crew members shifting affiliations behind bars, emerging as a sort-of hybrid gang-crew combination with diffuse connections and alliances.

    "That has really complicated this universe," Catalina said. "We went from a traditional gang problem to a crew problem and now we're morphing back into somewhat of a traditional gang problem."

    Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Fri, May 02, 2014 7:38 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    The last thing a gang member wants to be is a snitch.

    Snitches undefined or rats, squealers or canaries undefined supply damning information to police about fellow criminals that can send them to prison for life.

    Hence, gang members are big proponents of the anti-snitching efforts that have been thwarting police investigations for years in the Capital Region.

    But that does not stop them from providing damning information by literally singing for law enforcement.

    In one of the ironies of the criminal justice system, many of the same individuals who claim to detest snitching have no problem rapping on the Internet and, in the process, giving police more information than any snitch might have provided.

    They discuss specific beefs, plans, name types of guns and, most of all, show their faces for any cop to see.

    The latest example surfaced on Friday when Jovell White-Span, 22, of Rensselaer, was charged as one of two alleged shooters in the 2013 slaying of Edward Maxim, who was not a gang member, in Albany.

    People with knowledge of the case say White-Span and co-defendant Jahmeek "Meeker" Croley of Albany, both reputed members of the Yard Boys street gang in Albany, were recruited to kill Maxim in a prearranged hit.

    Long before White-Span faced murder and conspiracy charges that carry 25 years to life in prison, the aspiring rapper created a Facebook page on which he called himself "Shooter on Deck" undefined and flashed a giant gun alongside other men flashing large guns.

    So before his first day in court, he has already identified himself as a "shooter."

    On March 25, White-Span went on Facebook to compliment the direction and editing skills of a video made in Troy he referred to as "SendinShots."

    It so happened that on YouTube, a rap video called "Sending Shots" depicted scenes from around Troy, where several rappers made various boasts and spoke of blasting guns. One of the rappers mentions his "gunners" and makes a reference to violently riding into Second Street and Lexington Avenue, where Albany "uptown" gangs are based. It appeared to be connected to ongoing violence between gangs in Albany and Troy that police in both cities acknowledge has led to an increase in shootings.

    A common theme in the back-and-forth has been that victims of the shootings have been unwilling to cooperate with police.

    But on "Sending Shots," the rappers showed their faces and went into great effort to call themselves "YGz," an apparent reference to the "Young Gunnerz" gang in Troy.

    On Feb. 4, 2013, Takim Smith, 21, known as "Tubu," of Albany, who was not involved in any gang, was lured to a Corliss Park apartment in Troy under the pretense of sex with two women and robbed and killed. The apartment where Smith was killed was considered a hangout for the Young Gunnerz.

    Even without him being involved in crime, his death led to the Troy-Albany gang violence, police say. But they also said social media undefined such as the rap videos undefined has fueled violence.

    Another video made by young rappers in Albany mocks several members of the "Gunnerz."

    Both videos are packed with hand gestures about guns.

    The trend is not entirely new. Federal prosecutions of gangs in the Capital Region have revealed rap videos that help identify various gang members and associates.

    In 2008, when police arrested three defendants in the slaying of University at Albany student Richard Bailey, two of them had rap songs posted online.

    Both later cooperated with prosecutors.

  • Fri, May 02, 2014 7:37 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    A Bronx gang leader was found guilty Tuesday of the cold-blooded killing of a 16-year-old boy, authorities said.

    Prosecutors said Trinitarios thug Carlos (White Boy) Urena was the triggerman in the 2005 murder of Ka’Shawn Phillips. The teen, who was shot in the head in Yonkers, just over the Bronx border, was also stabbed 20 times.

    “Urena walked up with a 9-mm. gun and shot Ka’Shawn Phillips right in the head,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith said in Urena’s seven-week jury trial.

    Urena, 27, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison, authorities said. He was convicted of various charges, including murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering and drug conspiracy. No sentencing date was immediately set.

    Ka’Shawn Phillips (pictured) was shot in the head by Carlos (White Boy) Urena and stabbed 20 times in 2005.U.S. Attorney's Office for the SKa’Shawn Phillips (pictured) was shot in the head by Carlos (White Boy) Urena and stabbed 20 times in 2005.
    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (pictured) and his office have convicted more than 1,000 of about 1,300 people charged in 52 large-scale drug and gang takedowns since late 2009.Lombard Mariela, Freelance NYDNU.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (pictured) and his office have convicted more than 1,000 of about 1,300 people charged in 52 large-scale drug and gang takedowns since late 2009.
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      U.S. Attorney's Office for the S

      Limet Vasquez, an associate, was found guilty of racketeering, murder conspiracy and other counts.

      He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum of five years.

      The convictions are the latest obtained by the feds in a steady stream of gang takedowns.

      Last month, a Daily News review that highlighted the Phillips murder showed Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office has convicted more than 1,000 of about 1,300 people charged in 52 large-scale drug and gang takedowns since late 2009.

      “The Bronx streets are safer because of the jury’s verdict,” Bharara said Tuesday.

      Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/bronx-gang-leader-convicted-killing-16-year-old-article-1.1773590#ixzz30YcNxQEc
    • Thu, May 01, 2014 10:44 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)
      While councilors, the police chief and the mayor have sung their praises for the anti-violence Syracuse TRUCE program, it’s latest praise comes from someone who knows how it's supposed to work more than anyone else in the country; its creator.
      Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – While councilors, the police chief and the mayor have sung their praises for the anti-violence Syracuse TRUCE program, it’s latest praise comes from someone who knows how it's supposed to work more than anyone else in the country; its creator.

      The architect of the concept, David Kennedy, was in Syracuse to access the program and gave great reviews.

      “I'll tell you for the first time in the 30 years that I've been doing this, I actually feel optimistic,” Kennedy said.

      The program has reduced homicide rates in some cities by as much as 60 percent and in Syracuse, the number of gang related homicides and gunfire injuries have seen a decrease since the implementation of the system.

      “I don't like to talk about the results of a game until the whistle blows, but since you asked me and put me on the spot, I would say it's successful,” said Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.

      Kennedy’s program has been launched and lauded in other cities like Boston, where the drop in gun violence was dubbed the “Boston Miracle.”

      But, Kennedy said it doesn't take a miracle for the program to be successful. It takes hard work.

      In Syracuse, a series of face-to-face meetings to offer gang members a way out, has led to 35 people seeking help through the program.

      “If you've got 1,000 gang members, you've got these face-to-face meetings and you get substantial reductions in gun violence, which looks to be what's happening in the city. That's not because 1,000 people have turned their lives around and have got to work, it's because most of these 1,000 people have simply stopped acting violently,” Kennedy said. “We don't judge this by how many people get jobs any more than how many people go to federal prison. We judge it by whether the violence changes.”

      Anyone wanting to seek help through Syracuse TRUCE can visit their new Facebook page here or call (315) 475-9712.
    • Thu, May 01, 2014 10:43 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)
      17 East has been officially locked down. Binghamton Mayor Rich David nailed the notice to the front door, this morning.

      17 East was an after-hours club at 348 Clinton St. that police say was run by the MacBallers, which is affiliated with the national Bloods Street Gang.

      Police say the establishment did not have a liquor license and was a hub for the drug trade and illegal gambling. At least two shootings also happened there.

      17 East and eight other locations were raided last month, which netted the arrest of 14 people.

      The business will be locked down for one year.

      "As part of the stipulation, Binghamton Police are able to access this property 24/7 at their convenience without notice. The locks have already been changed and the keys are in the possession of the city," said David.

      38-year-old Calvin Johnson of Binghamton operated the nightclub. However, the business was placed in his girlfriend's name while the actual building was owned by his mother who lives out of the area.

      Johnson is now a federal fugitive.

      Police Chief Joe Zikuski says police were aware of the problems at 17 East, which led to an in-depth investigation. However, it took some time to put everything together.

      "It has got to be made clear to some of the neighbors, some of the business owners, they were serving alcohol here. We knew from our informants, but you couldn't just walk in," explained Zikuski. "They wouldn't let the police in when we came here at 3 o'clock in the morning. They would open up usually after the bars close, usually very late 2 a.m. in the morning, 3 a.m. When we did the warrant at 6 o'clock in the morning, there were still three people drinking at 6 a.m. in the morning on a weekday."

      The lock down order does not impact the barbershop or several apartments in the building.
    • Thu, May 01, 2014 10:42 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

      Marlon Johnson Jr., 25, of Kenmore, was sentenced Friday to 48 months in prison for possession of a firearm.

      Johnson was an associate of the Bailey Boys Gang, federal prosecutors said, and his sentencing by Justice William Skretny was the latest development in a series of federal actions aimed at the gang. A total of 10 alleged members and associates of the Bailey Boys have been indicted on racketeering charges, including multiple murders, attempted murders, robberies and narcotics trafficking, prosecutors said.

      Buffalo police arrested Johnson in December 2011 after they responded to a call on Emerson Street. He ran from the area but was taken into custody inside a residence on Glenwood Avenue. Officers searched a garbage tote next door and found a loaded .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol with a defaced serial number. Johnson admitted later admitted that he stole the gun from another individual.

      The Buffalo police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI participated in the investigation.

    • Thu, May 01, 2014 10:42 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

      Damone Holcombe, 28, the last of the five members of Buffalo’s former Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation street gang to be convicted, pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio to possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

      U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., said the Grant Street resident now faces a prison term of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing shortly by U.S. Chief District Judge William M. Skretny.

      In the midst of a crackdown on the Almighty Latin street gang, Erie County sheriff’s deputies found a 7.62mm semi-automatic rifle, a digital scale with cocaine and marijuana residue and a bag of marijuana in Holcombe’s trousers pocket when they raided his Grant Street home on Sept. 21, 2011. Federal agencies assisted in the crackdown, Hochul said.

    • Thu, May 01, 2014 10:40 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

      The NYPD has finally rid Times Square of the annual post-New York Auto Show gang-initiation violence that plagued the area for years, police sources told The Post on Tuesday.

      Bloods and Crips took to Facebook and Twitter to alert fellow gang members that there were too many cops in the area this year and to stay away, the sources said.

      “It was pretty much dead. It was really quiet this year,” said one source, noting that it felt “like Disneyland.”

      Detectives from the NYPD’s Intelligence Unit, which monitors social media, learned that the crew members were instead going to congregate in Coney Island, Brooklyn, following the show, the sources said.

      And gang violence erupted in a McDonald’s on Mermaid Avenue at around 11 p.m. Sunday. One man was stabbed to death while another was seriously wounded in the knife attack, cops said.

      A law-enforcement source told The Post there were other gang attacks across the city that night, but no confirmed assaults linked to crew members in Manhattan.

      Another factor in the decline of Times Square violence is that the show closed at 7 p.m. this year rather than 9 p.m. as in past years, the sources said.

      “They’re not as drunk and they usually go home,” one source said.

      Three gangbangers were shot and 54 arrested in Times Square on Easter, 2010.

    • Thu, May 01, 2014 10:37 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

      HARLEMundefinedThe last two defendants arrested as part of a takedown of 62 people in three violent East Harlem gangs have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and attempted murder charges, prosecutors said Thursday.

      Using statements made by the 62 defendants on social media and recorded phone calls from Rikers Island, members of East Harlem crews, Air It Out, True Money Gang and Whoadey were implicated in three murders and more than 30 shootings, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.

      Gabriel Shelton and Sean Terrell Jr., both 19, were members of Whoadey, prosecutors said. Shelton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. Terrell pleaded guilty to attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

      With these last two pleas, all 62 people arrested as a result of the 3 1/2-year investigation have pleaded guilty. Shelton and Terrell will be sentenced on June 3 and face up to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

      The crews used hundreds of Facebook and Twitter posts and text messages to sell firearms and plot the murders of their rivals.

      "They were responsible for terrorizing the East Harlem community, engaging in a bloody gang war that claimed the lives of at least three teenagers and were responsible for dozens of shootings," Vance said in a statement.

      The three crews operated around Johnson Houses, Taft Houses and Lehman Houses where violence spiked in the 23rd Precinct as two of the crews, True Money Gang and Whoadey, united against Air it Out.

      From October 2009 to April 3, 2013 there were seven homicides, 46 non-fatal shootings, and 17 reports of shots fired within the 23rd Precinct. From April 2013 to March 31, 2014 there have been two homicides, three non-fatal shootings, and no reports of shots fired.

      "It's made a huge difference," said Deputy Inspector Eric Pagan, the commanding officer of the 23rd Precinct.

      But with 11 public housing developments in the area comprising 95 buildings, Pagan said the goal is to not become complacent.

      He said he has officers, both uniformed and plain clothes, focusing on pockets where crimes such as robbery jump. Anytime a juvenile is listed on a complaint, an officer from the precinct pays a visit to the family.

      "Ninety-five times out of 100 there is a way to help these kids, we just have to find it," Pagan said.

      Vance has targeted the youth crews since taking office, issuing 12 indictments against 13 gangs.

      The Rev. Vernon Williams of Perfect Peace Ministries works with young people in Harlem to prevent gang violence. He said the aggressive prosecutions and convictions have made remaining gang members "uneasy."

      "They don't want to see 25 or 30 years in prison. They are not as ready to go for the gun," Williams said.

      The goal now is to reach the 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds who are at risk. Williams' group is partnering with other organizations around Harlem to reach children as early as possible to steer them away from gangs.

      Williams said he's also continuing to advocate for the funds necessary to fight the problem.

      "We are encouraging grassroots and other community groups to keep fighting because if you leave it, the problem will lay dormant for a minute and then go back to what it was," Williams said.

      "At the end of the day we are not fighting against children who act badly, we are fighting against poverty, which is behind all the situations in these young people's lives causing them to act out."

    • Thu, May 01, 2014 10:26 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

      SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A Syracuse street gang member who was the driver in a drive-by fatal shooting of a star athlete was sentenced today to 20 years in prison.

      U.S. District Judge Norman Mordue imposed the sentence on Habakkuk Nickens, 28, who pleaded guilty last year for his role in the V-NOT gang, which used violence to control its drug-trafficking business on the city's south side.

      Habukkak Nickens.JPGHabakkuk Nickens

      Federal prosecutors have identified Nickens as one of the two leaders of the gang. But he denies any leadership role.

      Under federal sentencing guidelines, Mordue could have sentenced Nickens to more than 30 years in prison. But the judge cited the work that Nickens did in the community to try to turn teens away from violence and gangs after Nickens distanced himself from the V-NOT gang.

      Nickens founded Help Breakdown Silence in 2011 and held community events aimed at putting young people on the right path, according to court papers filed by his lawyer, William Sullivan.

      In January 2012, the group gave away hats and gloves to children at "The Man in the Mirror Event." It included skits aimed at discouraging violence and drug use. One skit was entitled "Death Become Us," according to a flier that Sullivan filed with the court.

      Federal prosecutors have said Nickens formed the non-profit group only as an attempt to prepare for his defense to the racketeering charges.

      Mordue said he received 31 letters from people, many of them jail inmates, praising Nickens for his spiritual guidance. Nickens formed a bible study group at the Cayuga County Jail, Sullivan wrote in court papers.

      Nickens wrote two books in jail that he hopes to publish someday, Sullivan wrote. One was "Book of Habakkuk," which is the story of his life "with Bible references which illustrate how to transition to a better life," the court papers said. The other was a children's book with parables, Sullivan wrote.

      Nickens admitted he was the driver in the Nov. 26, 2010, drive-by fatal shooting of Kihary Blue. Nickens pulled up alongside a a car known to be used by rival Bricktown gang members on Interstate-81 and V-NOT leader Kahari Smith opened fire.

      Blue was not a member of a street gang, but was with four Bricktown gang members in the car, police said.

      Blue, 19, was a star football and basketball player at Henninger High School before he graduated in 2009.

      Two days after that shooting, Bricktown member Saquan Evans targeted the wrong gang for retaliation. He fired into the parked van of 110 Gang member Rashaad Walker Sr., killing his toddler son, Rashaad Walker Jr., who was in a car seat.

      The gang members were arrested in May 2012 by the Syracuse Gang Violence Task Force.


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