In one of the largest roundups of gangs ever in Manhattan, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced Thursday morning that more than 60 alleged members of various gangs have been indicted for shootings and other crimes. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Sixty-three alleged members of three separate gangs are accused of turning East Harlem into the Wild West. Officials say they have the guns, and the bodies, to prove it.
"They have engaged in literally a bloody gang war in East Harlem that's claimed the lives of at least three teenagers, with dozens more being shot," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Vance said that's why his office and the New York City Police Department had to crack down.
"We came to this area because of the prevalence of violence in it," Vance said. "And you can't pussyfoot around if you're going to take out gang members who are conspiring to kill people."
Authorities say the street war really exploded around three public housing developments after a member of one gang was killed four years ago.
Allegedly responsible for the violence was AIO, or the Air it Out crew, from the Taft houses; TMG, which stands for Tru Money Gang, from the Johnson Houses; and from the Lehman Houses, the Whoadey.
"One indicted AIO gang member wrote in a Facebook message to another during the conspiracy, 'God forgives. I don't. Somebody got to die,'" Vance said.
As well as using social media, several members were already locked up and were caught using jailhouse phones to order hits.
The mother of one of those arrested, who didn't want to appear on camera, said she is very upset. She claimed that her son is currently in college and living a positive life, like some of the others arrested. She said police targeted young men who used to be involved in gang activity years ago.
Some young people agreed with that.
"I don't believe all of them were involved. I don't," said one person.
"We are not saying everyone is innocent. Of course not everyone is innocent," said another. "But I'm sure there were a few people that don't belong in jail, and they're there."
Some longtime residents, however, who didn't want their faces shown, supported the massive take down.
"I am so happy they busted them, and I hope they get a lot more," said one person.
"We know the numbers, so we know who they are, and they will clearly be closely monitored," said Chief Anthony Izzo of the NYPD's organized crime control bureau.
If convicted, many of those arrested could get 25 years to life.