Authorities target gangs in Harlem bust

November 4, 2011 3:09:02 PM PDT
Authorities say a gang stashed guns in mailboxes, storm drains and stoops and used them in turf battles with rivals in central Harlem. The Manhattan district attorney and police said Friday they dismantled a gang responsible for shootings and other violence around 129th Street and Lenox Avenue. One block, stretching from Fifth Avenue to Lenox, was home turf to a gang known as "129," "Goodfellas" or "The New Dons," prosecutors said. Some 19 people have been indicted on conspiracy charges. Some also face attempted murder and other counts. "We believe we have dismantled one of central Harlem's most violent and destructive Street gangs," District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said. Vance says that while some gangs seek weapons to keep others out of their drug-dealing territory, this one just apparently wanted to fight over turf just for turf's sake. Ilya lushtak and his family live on the street. "There were two gangs. There was a gang here and another over on Fifth Avenue," she explained. "There would be shootings at night and sometimes in the day. I never lived in fear. I never saw any ambulances." Undercover officers purchased 15 guns from gang members or associates during their investigation. Sixteen defendants have been arrested so far. Vance said the violence stretched on here for years, although many of the 19 arrested are teenagers. "Young men who bartered their futures for their allegiance to their crew. The members are getting younger and increasingly well armed," Vance said. The arrests come about two weeks after five men were convicted of running a violent drug gang, also in central Harlem.