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Targeting of Trinitarios gang leads to drop in Bronx violence, NYPD says

The "Ceasefire" initiative puts restrictions on certain gang members and offers them alternatives to gang life.

A mural of Lesandro

A mural of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz near the Bronx bodega where police said Trinitarios members killed him in June. The NYPD said efforts to restrict the gang's movements have led to a drop in violence. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

After a summer of gang killings and associated violence, the NYPD has stemmed the bloodshed recently by restricting movements of a notorious Bronx gang, even barring some from going near ethnic parades or places where conflict with rivals could erupt, a department official said Wednesday.

The tactic, carried out in conjunction with state parole and city probation officials, has targeted members of the Trinitarios gang, who police said fatally stabbed a 15-year-old member of the NYPD's Police Explorer program in June in an apparent case of mistaken identity. The NYPD can restrain gang members if they are still on probation or parole from earlier run-ins with the law, said NYPD chief of crime strategies Lori Pollock.

As part of a wider “Ceasefire” initiative which offers services to abate violence, police officers have urged members of Trinitarios and other gangs to take advantage of various programs offering alternatives to gang life.

“The idea is to offer as many [social] services  as possible to gang members or people involved in violence and if they don’t take advantage of those services there are consequences and they are told of those consequences and part of the agreement is that, they are on parole or probation, they have to abide by certain restrictions,” Pollock said during the NYPD's monthly crime briefing.

Among the restrictions have been curfews and prohibitions on gang members going near the Dominican Day parade and other areas where the potential for retaliatory violence against rival gangs exists, Pollock said.

“A perfect example was the citywide Trinitarios enforcement action which prevented parolees and probationers from attending certain events like the Dominican Day Parade,” Pollock said. “These measures have brought the Bronx murder numbers down significantly in the third quarter, [to] 18 from 26, a decrease of eight.”

Pollock said one goal of the Ceasefire program is to spread it beyond the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx to the 46th and 52nd precinct areas in the borough's north section to focus on areas where Trinitarios members gather.

While the Bronx remains the city hot spot for homicides with 66 compared to 52 in the same period a year ago, Pollock said shootings in the borough are down, something she called “an unbelievable reduction in gun violence."

Violence the NYPD has attributed to Trinitarios members — primarily composed of immigrants from the Dominican Republic — spurred a department offensive in the second quarter of 2018 to combat a spike in Bronx homicides, Pollock said. Notable among the killings: the June 20 stabbing death of police explorer Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz outside a Bronx bodega. Surveillance video captured the killing of Guzman-Feliz after several suspects who police identified as Trinitarios members dragged him from the bodega, attacked the Bronx teenager with a machete and stabbed him. Guzman-Feliz ran to a nearby hospital but collapsed outside the facility and later died of his wounds.    

Several suspected members of the gang have been charged in connection with Guzman-Feliz's killing. Family members of the aspiring police officer reportedly received Facebook messages from the alleged killers claiming they had killed the wrong person.

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