THE BRONX — More than 120 suspected gang members responsible for at least seven murders as well as drug sales near schools were arrested Wednesday morning in what officials said was the largest gang bust in city history.
The suspects, who were part of rival gangs the Big Money Bosses and 2Fly YGz, were arrested by 700 investigators with the NYPD, Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, officials said.
.@PreetBharara: Residents in Eastchester Gardens "suffered far too long w drugs and violence as an unavoidable part of their daily lives."— Ben Fractenberg (@fractenberg) April 27, 2016
They were charged with racketeering, selling drugs, and using guns, but are also accused of robbery and various acts of violence against rivals such as the "Slut Gang," officials said.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that prolific violence of the gangs had imperiled whole communities.
"When gangs proliferate neighborhoods suffer," Bharara said. He added that many residents in and around the area feared their children or loved ones "might become the victim of a stray bullet."
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called the operation the single largest gang takedown in modern New York history and said it was intended to end historic violence of NYCHA residents and "take back the neighborhoods for the decent people."
He also pointed out that some of the arrested gang members were accused of firing a stray bullet that killed Sadie Mitchell, 92, inside her home Oct. 20, 2009.
Gang member also sold marijuana, crack cocaine and oxycodone near schools and playgrounds including Agnes Haywood Playground, Young Scholars Academy and Rienzi Playground, officials said.
.@PreetBharara message to those in gangs or thinking of joining: "Unless you like jail or death, don’t do it."— Ben Fractenberg (@fractenberg) April 27, 2016
The Big Money Bosses, which operated primarily along White Plains Road in Wakefield, included members with colorful monikers such as Chickenita, Money Making Kenny and Bobby Soxx, officials said.
2Fly YGz, which operated in and around the Eastchester Gardens houses in Allerton, included Mark the Gritty Shark, Murder and Wayne "Wayne Brady" Leon, officials said.
"Their base of operations was the playground in Eastchester Gardens," said Angel Melendez, a special agent for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at the press conference. He said the gangs used the playground to push and hide narcotics and weapons.
Bharara also mentioned that his office will use other means to improve the lives of people in NYCHA housing, noting a separate, independent civil inquiry as to "Whether or not NYCHA is following its obligations ... with respect to these issues of safety, mold, lead and what have you."
Additional reporting was done by Ben Fractenberg and William Mathis