Nineteen arrested in East Harlem drug gang take down

Nineteen people have been charged with selling crack cocaine in the lobbies, hallways, elevators and even playgrounds of an East Harlem public housing complex.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the arrests Friday. All or most of the defendants have been arraigned on drug-sale charges and pleaded not guilty.

Their ages range from 18 to 38. Prosecutors say all lived or had family in the East River Houses development and many were affiliated with a local gang called "East Army."

Vance notes that his office has brought 15 gang takedown cases in the past five years.

Police statistics showed that as of early May, gang arrests citywide were up more than 28 percent from two years ago.
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