Fourteen individuals were indicted Tuesday for their involvement in narcotics trafficking and illegal weapons possession in the Cypress Hills Houses, a New York City Housing Authority complex located in Brooklyn. “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,” the FBI’s Assistant Director-in-Charge stated.
The charges stem from a joint-investigation by the FBI, the NYPD, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of a neighborhood-based street gang known as the Back Side crew – the Back Side refers to the section of Cypress that borders Euclid Avenue. The investigation revealed that in recent years, the Back Side crew has closely aligned with members of the Team Side crew – the Team Side refers to the section of Cypress that borders Fountain Avenue – and that some members of the two crews self-identify as members of the Crips criminal street gang.
Authorities began the investigation in November of 2015 after the residents of the more than 1,400 apartments in Cypress Hills Houses were besieged in recent years by gang- and drug-related violence, including numerous homicides and a significant number of non-fatal shootings.
The government’s investigation included court-authorized wiretaps of telephones used by the defendants, which confirmed the existence of a large-scale drug trafficking operation and in which all of the defendants charged were active participants.
During just a five-month period, that operation was responsible for the distribution of more than a kilogram of cocaine powder that was cooked into more than 280 grams of crack cocaine and distributed in and around Cypress and upstate New York.
The investigation also revealed that some of the defendants were involved in firearms trafficking, illegal weapons possession, and other criminal conduct, including a large-scale and fraudulent credit card scheme. On May 3, 2016, pursuant to a lawfully-authorized search warrant, the FBI seized and searched a Fed-Ex package that one defendant attempted to ship to a co-conspirator in Georgia containing more than 1,300 fraudulently manufactured credit cards that bore no name or stored information.
If convicted of the narcotics charges, Tyriek Hankins, Isiah Sadler, Anthony Keitt, Michael Vailes, Dimas Perez, and Ronald Jackson each face a maximum of life imprisonment.
“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. But the actions of these alleged gang members who have held a community hostage are real and have real consequences that the FBI NY Metro Safe Streets Task Force, the NYPD, and our law enforcement partners won’t allow them to escape,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez.
“As alleged, the members of the Cypress Hills neighborhood have seen drugs and guns pour into our streets. The department targeted the crime with the same precise, targeted policing that has been used in the hundreds of arrests we have made in recent months,” said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton. “This is the latest in our increasing and on-going efforts to arrest gangs and crews who carry weapons, deal drugs, or commit violence. Thanks as always to the FBI and the Eastern District of New York for their continued commitment to making our city safer with today’s enforcement.”
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