Fourteen people have been arrested on allegations of narcotics trafficking and illegal weapons possession in the Cypress Hills Houses, an NYCHA complex in East New York.
Since November 2015, the FBI, NYPD and U.S. Attorney’s Office have been investigating the Back Side Crew, a local gang that took its name from the section of the Cypress Hills Houses that borders Euclid Avenue, officials reported. Some members of the gang allegedly self-identify as members of the Crips street gang.
Using telephone wiretaps, authorities were able to uncover a drug-trafficking operation that allegedly involved all fourteen people arrested, officials added. In a five-month period, the organization distributed more than a kilo of cocaine, which was cooked into more than 280 grams of crack cocaine distributed around the housing complex and in upstate New York.
"The scope and nature of this investigation reads like something out of a Hollywood movie script, involving a massive drug trafficking network and deadly violence," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez stated. "But the actions of these alleged gang members who have held a community hostage are real and have real consequences."
One of those charged, Jason Soto, 27, was also allegedly involved in a plot to kill an elderly woman by supplying her with poison-laced crack, the New York Daily News reported. Authorities contacted the woman, warning her not to take any drugs that came from Soto.
The investigation also revealed firearms trafficking and a large-scale fraudulent credit card scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office added. The FBI seized a Fed-Ex package shipped by a defendant that contained more than 1,300 fraudulently manufactured credit cards that bore no names.
"The [NYPD] targeted the crime with the same precise, targeted policing that has been used in the hundreds of arrests we have made in recent months," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton stated.
At the end of April, several law enforcement agencies worked together in New York to stage the largest gang takedown in the city’s history, and another gang bust two weeks later netted an additional 30 arrests in the Bronx and Harlem.