NYC ‘Chico’ gang takedown nabs suspects known for vengeance, shootings that affect bystanders

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More than a dozen members of a violent East Harlem street gang were indicted Wednesday in a massive takedown in a joint investigation by police and prosecutors.

The “Chico Gang,” which authorities said had terrorized two public housing projects since 2018, was hit with wide-ranging conspiracy indictments charging 13 members with shooting a dozen people — including four innocent bystanders, among them a 12-year-old boy.

The alleged gangbangers were charged with conspiracy, attempted murder, attempted assault and weapons possession, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

Three of the reputed gang members were arraigned in Manhattan court on Wednesday, while the others were already in custody.

“The arrests of these gang members were specifically targeted to remove the drivers of this gang violence from our streets,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.

“The Chico gang has carried on senseless rivalries targeting other gangs with innocent members of the community — including children — being caught in the crossfire,” Shea said. “It has to stop.”

According to the indictments, the gang operated out of Wagner Houses public housing complex, with the violence aimed largely at a rival gang at nearby Jefferson Houses.

Prosecutors said the gang communicated via text and online, using Snapchat and Instagram, and plotting out crimes in Facebook group chats and instant messages.

“Somebody goin get hurt Saturday,” one alleged member said in a March 10, 2019 chat.

“I’m giving a gun to anyone of my (n-word)s who wanna drill no question about it me saying no to somebody could have (n-word)s in danger,” one gang member wrote in a Jan. 17, 2020 text message.

“Ima Get Ya Something so ya won’t have to ask nobody don’t even show (n-word)s or speak about it gangsta,” the text allegedly said. “You personally know da vibes tho I’m (n-word)s on drill timing I’m promoting all antics.”

A New York City police officer sits in a cruiser at a checkpoint surrounding Times Square during New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York in 2015. (AP)

On July 19 this year, accused gangster Melvin Williams allegedly posted a photo on Snapchat with the caption reading, “A lot of (n-word)s hitting the deck I think my time next cus I can’t run but best believe ima throw back.”

Ten days later, Williams posted a video on Snapchat showing him holding a silver handgun to another person’s head, the indictment said.

Williams, 20, was among the three suspects arraigned Wednesday and charged with conspiracy, attempted murder, attempted assault, assault and weapons possession.

Also arraigned Wednesday on the same charges were Dakotah Campbell, 18, and Jaseir Mitchell, 20, according to the indictments.

Also named in the indictments are Jabari Albright, Devon Branton, Sahii Butler, Jasan Crockett, Jayden Golden, Kamren Hudson, Joseph Lee, Jamel Williams, Mikell Pettaford and Isaac Rivera, prosecutors said.

All are in custody except for Rivera, who has not been arrested.

“This indictment is one part of our work to break the cycle of violence gripping East Harlem, as teens are recruited to take the place of older gang members and continue their bloody rivalries,” Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.

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