Queens District Attorney’s Office indicted 23 alleged gang members who committed several violent crimes in New York City while engaged in a gang war. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced the charges alongside NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday, February 14th. The two-year long investigation was into gangs that operated out of Astoria Houses and Woodside Houses in Queens.
The gang bust saw the recovery of dozens of weapons. The 23 men are facing a litany of charges for allegedly committing a variety of crimes that include about 18 shootings. They are facing some of the following charges; conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder in the second degree, reckless endangerment, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.
The majority of the accused face 25 years in jail.
“The reckless criminality we saw during this investigation is the kind of lawlessness that has killed law-abiding citizens of New York,” Katz said. The investigation of the alleged gang members was a collaboration between the Queens DA and the NYPD Gun Violence Suppression Unit, led by NYPD Deputy Chief Jason Savino. The joint operation targeted two Crip subsets that were fighting against each other, the “Rollin Crip” set from Astoria and Woodside’s “8 Trey Crip.”
The warring factions were responsible for several violent incidents including the death of Gudelia Vallinas, who was struck by gunfire while buying milk. According to the authorities, the gangs would shoot at each other in broad daylight, sparing no thought for the children and innocent people who could fall victim to their bullets.
“The dismantling of these gangs are essential,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell. “Gangs and crews who believe that they too could create a culture of fear in our city.”
Traequan Middleton, former resident and now assistant community center director of Astoria Houses, lamented the gun violence in Astoria. “If there is a plan, it needs to be adjusted because I’m not seeing change,” Middleton said. “We have cops patrolling public housing every day and there’s still shootouts in broad daylight.”
He blamed the rampant violence on a lack of activities and opportunities that can keep the youth occupied. “There’s nothing for them to do and no unity in the community,” Middleton said. “Right now no one is setting the example or providing guidance and what’s happening on a day-to-day basis here is awful.”
At the announcement, Mayor Adams said, “Our goal is to be proactive. And not just one gun at a time, but to take down these dangerous individuals who are carrying these guns. These illegal guns even when you color them, purple, pink, and lavender, they still discharge death. They are endangering the lives of innocent people in our city. And they have no regard for the safety of the people who live in our city.”