Two gangs that circled the Robert F. Wagner Houses projects in Harlem have been “brought down” in a series of arrests, according to the New York Times. The gangs had set up shop in the projects, selling drugs on the playgrounds and in entryways. They allegedly used the community center to “divide their proceeds.” Now, though, officials say residents of the area can feel a little safer.
The investigation into this particular housing project was spurred by resident complaints. People living within these projects were unable to avoid the drug dealers and gangs—they were at every corner, in every building, and an ever-present force.
Using surveillance video that is regularly recorded at the city’s housing projects, detectives were able to identify members from two different gangs—20 BLOCC and Flow Boyz. Undercover detectives then moved in and began making purchases.
In all, 19 of the gang members were arrested this past week. In the last 18 months, the Manhattan district attorney office’s violent criminal enterprises unit has prosecuted 132 gang members in Harlem and seized 423 guns.
Those 19 have all been indicted on felony conspiracy charges and also face charges of drug distribution. They face many, many years in prison.
Chief Anthony Izzo of the Organized Crime Control Bureau of the NYPD said that the gangs, “thought they were immune from law enforcement. They thought they could operate with impunity. Well, this case illustrates that clearly they were wrong.”
It isn’t clear if the NYPD or any other organizations will be taking steps to prevent others from taking the place of those arrested, as this is what usually happens after the dust settles. While you can’t put a price on the feeling of being safe in one’s own home, the residents of the Wagner Houses no doubt know that there will soon be another gang setting up shop without interventions in place to actually prevent the crimes before they happen.
Many argue that legalizing drugs would eliminate these very scenes from transpiring. No longer would drug dealers hold the key to controlled substances—the money wouldn’t be theirs for the taking and all of the violence tied to the drug life would also fall by the wayside.
Until that happens, however, the NYPD will continue to put out fires when they receive enough complaints, and residents will be forced to live with armed gang members outside their homes.
If you are accused of a drug possession crime, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today for a free consultation with a New York defense attorney.