Nineteen members of two East Harlem gangs have been indicted for selling crack cocaine in the vicinity of public housing.
The 11 month investigation by the NYPD and the District Attorney’s Office had help from New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The “20 BLOCC” and “Flow Boyz” gangs operated near the NYCHA run Wagner Houses, as well as Taino Towers.
The alleged gang members are facing several charges, including conspiracy in the second degree and criminal sale of a controlled substance.
The defendants did not enter a plea Thursday but will do so during their next court appearance on August 16. A judge has set bail at $40,000 cash or $120,000 bond.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance said the arrests have effectively closed an open-air drug market in East Harlem. He added the trend of youth involvement in gang-related crimes is troubling.
"We see, unfortunately, gangs and crews getting younger as well as more sophisticated," Vance said.
The gangs operated for roughly three years before police were able to make arrests, even though the Wagner Houses is under 24-hour video surveillance by the NYPD. But as Vance explained, investigators wanted to be sure they had a strong case before they handed down charges against the gang members.
"What you're really trying to do is figure out who is now part of the loosely associated gangs and build that together," Vance explained. "And when you have the evidence that ties it together and that's strong, that's when you take it down, barring some immediate public safety issue you have to act on."