WEST BRONX — Law enforcement officials announced on Thursday that they had made the largest gang bust in the history of The Bronx — 84 gang members getting indicted on charges related to 22 shootings and narcotics trafficking throughout the West Bronx, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
"Four gangs formed an alliance of evil and carved a path of destruction from the West Bronx to New England, selling drugs up north for quadruple their street price here and returning to The Bronx with firearms purchased up there," said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.
The gangs Miami Ave, The Eden Boys, the UGZ and the RGZ joined forces to sell narcotics and aggressively deal with their rivals, according to the Bronx District Attorney's office.
Clark noted that Miami Ave was an acronym for "Macombs Is A Major Issue," while Police Commissioner Bill Bratton described Eden Boys as an interesting name choice.
"It’s ironic these characters, some of them chose the name Eden Boys for themselves because while they were a long way from paradise, their behavior was certainly forbidden," he said.
Officials seized a total of 15 guns, 16 kilos of drugs and about $260,000 cash in the bust, and members are accused of flooding towns in New England with cocaine, heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that is similar to but more powerful than morphine.
In total, the defendants are charged with 386 counts, which include conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to distribute narcotics and weapons charges.
Gang member Wilfred "Cito" Lora alone is being charged in connection with 11 attempted murders that resulted in eight people being shot who had nothing to do with the group's drug trade, according to the Bronx DA's office.
A total of 58 defendants are being charged as major traffickers, meaning they could face life in prison if convicted.
Police from the 44th Precinct began working with the Bronx DA's office in November 2014 to investigate local street crews who were behind shootings, and in February 2015, investigators noted that crew members had been frequently going to Bourne and Wareham in Massachusetts, possibly to sell narcotics, according to Clark.
Officials determined that members were transporting heroin and cocaine from The Bronx to the area in May and later discovered that they were also shipping crack cocaine and heroin to Manchester, New Hampshire.
"The New England area, particularly New Hampshire, is experiencing an epidemic addiction to heroin, and this operation helped to fuel that scourge," Clark said.
Gang members were selling $10,000 worth of crack per week at four times the amount they could sell it for in The Bronx, officials said.
Police tracked the members on social media to help with the investigation, where they would occasionally post pictures of what they had bought with their money, such as clothing and liquor.
Gang members ranged in age from their late teens to their late 20s, according to the DA's office.
Bratton stressed that the arrests would help limit violence in the area, which was just as important as trying to combat drugs.
"They were effectively trading off drugs to get guns from New Hampshire to bring them back down here to be used in that issue," he said, "so it’s not just a mater of making a dent in the sale of the drugs. It’s the violence that is associated with it."