Bronx gang members arrested in largest takedown in NYC history, authorities say

A Bronx bust saw 120 gang members charged, according to the NYPD, on April 27, 2016.
A Bronx bust saw 120 gang members charged, according to the NYPD, on April 27, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw

More than 100 gang members and associates were charged on Wednesday in what investigators believe is the largest gang takedown in the city’s history. 

The raid, which took place late Tuesday and early Wednesday, targeted members of two different rival gangs in the Bronx — the Big Money Bosses and 2Fly YGz street gang — according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. 

A total of 120 people were charged in two separate indictments with several offenses, including racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, and use of firearms, according to court records. 

“We bring these charges so that all New Yorkers, including those in public housing, can live their lives as they deserve: free of drugs, free of guns and free of gang violence,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. 

“These gangs didn’t distinguish between rival gang members and law-abiding residents of the community. If you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could be shot, stabbed, even killed.” 

The joint NYPD and federal investigation, which began in December 2014, looked at the Eastchester Gardens public housing project, where the 2Fly gang operated, and the Wakefield area, where BMB was based. These gangs, authorities said, have been at war with each other for a decade. 

Together, Bharara said the members are charged with five murders, including a 15-year-old boy stabbed to death and a 92-year-old woman, Sadie Mitchell, who was fatally shot by a stray bullet in 2009 as she sat inside her Wakefield home.

Bharara said the gangs worked in full view of the public, using social media to promote membership. Gang members posted videos on YouTube bragging about their crimes, Bharara said.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there were 17 murders and 51 shootings in 2014, the year the investigation began, in the 47th Precinct, where BMB operated. So far this year, Bratton said there have been seven shootings. 

“Not all of them were committed by these two gangs, but they were significantly involved in a significant number,” he said. “This takedown will go a very long way toward ending the stroke of violence that has been carried on … This will help to ensure a much safer summer.”

The 2Fly gang, Bharara said, even took over a playground in the housing project, storing guns and selling drugs openly there.

“While today’s actions cannot solve all the problems at Eastchester Gardens, they go a long way, we think, in eradicating the source of so much mayhem in that neighborhood,” he said.

During the raid, a 21-year-old man suspected of a string of Bronx robberies targeting women and the elderly, fell to his death from a fifth floor window, believing police were after him, a law enforcement official said.

The man, who was not immediately named, was inside the same apartment as one of the gang members arrested, and he tried to hide from police at about 5:50 a.m. by hanging out of the window, but he couldn’t support his body weight and he fell.

Bharara said that his office is also looking into to the New York City Housing Authority and assessing how it’s run.

“When you talk about broken windows or other policing strategies, it’s also important to think about other ways that law enforcement … can make a difference,” he said. 

“Our efforts are not limited only to taking bad guys off the street, but also figuring out ways to make sure that other agencies are living up to their responsibility, to make sure they’re keeping housing safe, sanitary, and the like,” he said.