Updated 01/19/2012 11:46 PM
Police: Social Media Helped In Brooklyn Gangs' Take Down
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Law enforcement officials on Thursday announced in Downtown Brooklyn indictments against 43 gang members authorities say have been terrorizing residents in the Brownsville section of the borough.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office says all the defendants are from the neighborhood of Brownsville and range in age from 15 to 21 years old.
Authorities say 25 were part of the so-called "Wavegang" gang and 18 belonged to the "Hoodstarz" gang.
Investigators say the rival gangs are responsible for multiple shootings in the neighborhood that have killed three and injured many others, including bystanders.
"Over the course of a year-and-a-half the gang members were responsible for six homicides [and] 32 shootings in which 38 people were wounded," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
They say gang members mainly targeted teenagers between the ages of 13 and 14, threatened them, stole personal items such as bikes and cellphones and then warned them to not alert authorities.
"He left him with the following threat, 'If you call the cops, I will shoot you in the kneecaps,'" said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
Law enforcement officials also seized 35 guns in this case.
While many residents knew about the violence firsthand, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said gang members also went on social media networks to boast about what they were doing.
"They followed gang members on Twitter, on Facebook and on YouTube," said Kelly. "By linking their boastings and postings on social media to active cases and other crime, these officers were able to build this case."
Officers from the 73rd precinct, along with other investigators, had the gangs under surveillance, even recording calls from members locked up on Rikers Island ordering hits on rivals.
The Brooklyn district attorney said his office is serious about protecting the borough's communities and is actively going after other gangs.
"In all other neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn, we know who you are, we know how you operate, you make no mistake about it that we're coming after you next. And that's not an idle threat, because within the next two or three months there will be a similar press conference by announcing the next take down," said Hynes.
Those named in the indictment face anywhere between one-and-a-third to four years for the lesser crimes and up to 25 years to life in prison for murder and attempted murder.