East Harlem gang members busted after plotting their crimes on social media

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Over a dozen members of the East Harlem, New York, “Chico Gang” were indicted in a joint investigation between police and prosecutors Wednesday, according to a press release from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Officials indicted 13 members of the gang on charges of conspiracy, attempted murder, including 21 alleged shootings that resulted in 12 victims, attempted assault and weapons possession, according to the press release. The street gang has been present among two public housing projects since 2018.

“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,” said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “These defendants are alleged to have shot a dozen people, four of whom were unintended targets – including a 12-year-old boy.”

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The Chico gang allegedly used Snapchat and Instagram to communicate and Facebook group chats and instant messaging to plan their crimes, the New York Post reported.


Most gang members were already in custody, but three were arraigned Wednesday in a Manhattan court, the New York Post reported. Only one of the indicted individuals has not been arrested.

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“The arrests of these gang members were specifically targeted to remove the drivers of this gang violence from our streets,” said New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “The Chico gang has carried on senseless rivalries targeting other gangs with innocent members of the community – including children – being caught in the crossfire. It has to stop.”

“Somebody goin get hurt Saturday,” an alleged member said in a March 10, 2019, chat, the New York Post reported.

Another gang member wrote, “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,” in a Jan. 17, 2020, text message, the New York Post reported.

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An accused gangster, Melvin Williams, allegedly posted a photo on Snapchat that said, “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” on July 19, the New York Post reported. He posted a video on Snapchat of him holding a handgun to someone’s head ten days later.

Vance pointed to multiple reasons for the violence, including the pandemic and a lack of police trust.

“Tackling the pandemic’s seismic, destabilizing impacts on unemployment, homelessness, and mental health, the availability of guns from states with lax gun laws, and law enforcement’s deficit of trust, credibility, and clearance rates in communities of color requires a whole-of-government approach,” Vance said.

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