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Mayor Eric Adams Announces Indictments Of 23 Alleged Members Of Warring Subsets Of The Crips Street Gang

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz: Good morning everyone. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning, Happy Valentine’s Day.

District Attorney Katz: Well, I appreciate that.

Mayor Adams: How come you didn’t say good morning, Mike? Good morning. Happy Valentine’s Day.

District Attorney Katz: We’ll try that again, Mr. Mayor. Good morning everyone.

Mayor Adams: Good morning, Ms. D.A.

District Attorney Katz: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. And I want to welcome Mayor Adams. My understanding, Mr. Mayor, is that you may be the first time this office has been graced with the presence of a mayor is my understanding. So we thank you for being here today. We thank Police Commissioner Sewell, who is always here for us, and we thank her for that. Deputy Chief Savino, who is the commanding officer of the Gun Violence Suppression Unit, and Chief of Detectives James Essig. I do want to thank our executive over Investigations, Jerry Brave, and of course John Sennett, in charge of Violent Criminal Enterprises, and all of the A.D.A.s that are standing here with us today. Thank you for your outstanding work in the N.Y.P.D., and particularly of the N.Y.P.D., I’d like to thank the Gun Violence Suppression Unit.

This take down today had to be especially gratifying for the department coming as you mourn the death, and we all mourn the death of Officer Fayaz, a victim of gun violence. And I just want to note him today and make sure that we keep him in our prayers. My condolences, and thank you for your outstanding work, commitment, and courage. It is enormously appreciated. I want to thank my violent criminal enterprise bureau for their outstanding work, collaborating with the N.Y.P.D. partners over the course of this two year investigation. Like I said, I’m joined here by the leadership of those bureaus. We want to thank them for the work they’ve done in combination with the N.Y.P.D.

The reckless criminality we saw during this investigation is the kind of lawlessness that has killed law-abiding citizens of New York that have been in the crossfire of gang violence in New York. We saw that in the heartbreaking loss of Ms. Vallinas. She was crossing the street in Woodside to go buy milk for her two young children when she was gunned down by a gang member shooting at arrival. Her killing led to the launch of this investigation into the violence between the rival subsets of the Crips in the community. Even though her murder was charged in a separate indictment, we knew that we could not rest there. We knew that we had to address the ongoing violence in that area, and her murder was a symptom of the gang violence and the warring factors permeating between these two gangs in these two housing complexes. As we will demonstrate in court with video evidence, no one on either side thought twice about shooting at a rival on a busy street.

It did not matter that it was the middle of the day, or that small children were present. They fired their guns, bystanders be damned. On June 15th, 2020, for example, Astoria gang members walked into the Woodside housing development and fired at a group of Woodside gang members who were in the courtyard along with other residents, including several small children. A Woodside gang member and an innocent bystander were hit. Similarly, on August 22nd, 2020, Astoria gang members entered the Woodside Houses and shot at gang members who were among the residents and their small children were at the playgrounds and they were on the benches. As residents scattered, including small children on bicycles, the Woodside gang members returned fire. Fortunately in that one incident, no one was injured. It’s a miracle that the feud between those two violent gangs has not claimed more lives. Their absolute disregard for the lives of their neighbors and the fellow New Yorkers only strengthens our resolve every single day. The single most important thing we in law enforcement can do to keep New Yorkers safe is to work together to hold criminals accountable for the bloodshed, heartbreak, and misery that they face.

We will fight this plague of gun violence with everything we have on the streets and in the courts. We simply will not relent. As you know from your press release, after a three month grand jury — which by the way was a long-term grand jury at my request which sat solely on this case — we returned an 84 count indictment against 23 of the gang members, and we thank everyone involved in that for their work, especially the detectives that were involved in the investigation every step of the way, and the N.Y.P.D. who goes in, finds these individuals and makes sure that they are held accountable for the crimes that they commit. I would like to now welcome and introduce the mayor of the great City of New York, Mayor Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thank you so much, D.A. Katz. We served together as borough presidents and we knew the impact of gun violence then, and now having you as district attorney and your common sense approach to public safety is a real partnership. We cannot say enough about the teamwork between the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the detectives and the members of the New York City Police Department as we pursue those who are the most dangerous among us. Police Commissioner Sewell has made it clear that this is of paramount importance for not only the men and women of the N.Y.P.D. and the district attorneys offices across the city, but for the people in the City of New York. Just look at the numbers. You heard me over and over talk about recidivism. Those who are part of a system that allows them to continue to perpetuate violence on our city. We need to have that collaboration to crack down and take down these groups.

When you’re doing an analysis, District Attorney Katz took down a similar dangerous group of people in Queensbridge housing. You saw, immediately after that, a substantial decrease in shootings and in homicides. I believe for a period of time you had no homicides in that area. Partnering with the Crisis Management Teams that were involved in that area, we saw how the progress works and keeps people safe. 23 people. Eight of them had multiple shootings that believe our criminal justice system is something that they they’re not taking seriously. And this is why we must pursue those who are dangerously involved in these crimes. They’re had a total disregard for the safety of the people who are there. We are going to stop and communicate with the residents on the ground there. They have asked for this of the residents of Queensbridge, the residents of Astoria housing. All of the housing. They’re not calling for defunding police. They’re calling for protecting police and allowing the police to protect the people.

Gangs plus guns equals graves. And 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 are 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. And we are saying, in the most clear and loudest voice possible, that we are going to use every tool that is available to pursue them and take down the criminal enterprises that are creating the violence and death in our community.

And before I depart and turn it over back to the district attorney, we know of the incident that took place yesterday in Bay Ridge. The police commissioner will be doing an announcement later on today. Our hearts go out to the families. I visited the families in the hospital yesterday, two of the victims, and I visited and communicated with family members of the one deceased. He leaves behind children. He was a single father raising those children on his own. Just a terrible tragedy. And I just want to thank the New York City Police Department for taking appropriate actions to apprehend the driver. But again, D.A., thank you so much for being a great partner.

District Attorney Katz: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Next we’d like to hear from our great police commissioner, the City of New York and the N.Y.P.D. A very welcome sight in Queens County, always here, and we thank her for her involvement in almost every case that we do here in Queens County.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell: Thank you. I too echo the mayor’s sentiment. Our hearts are with the families and victims of yesterday’s horrific incident. And thank you, Madame D.A., for your kind words about our member who we lost.

Today we are highlighting the work of our Gun Violence Suppression Unit, and the skilled exceptional professionals of the Queens D.A.’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau. But this critical work is done every day citywide by the hundreds of patrol and investigative units across the N.Y.P.D. The indictments announced today are the direct result of the exceptional collaboration between the Queens D.A. and the N.Y.P.D. These investigations are crucial. The dismantling of these gangs is essential, and as we have seen over the last year, apprehending these criminals is imperative. Together, we are continuing our fight against illegal firearms in our city and against anyone who terrorizes our neighborhoods.

We’re here in Queens talking about dismantling these crews and gangs, but we have been at podiums like this over the last several weeks and months, announcing with our partners several takedowns and indictments of other gangs and crews who believe that they too could create a culture of fear in our city. Those who believe that are wrong. We will be back with more cases and more arrests wherever violent criminals threaten our communities.

These are dangerous people and bringing them to justice is a dangerous job. But nobody does that job better than the women and men of the N.Y.P.D. In the face of unprecedented challenges, your officers continue to address unsafe conditions and apprehend offenders in our communities. And your detectives steadfastly work these cases that leads to the success we are reporting today. So thank you to our District Attorney Katz and your entire team for our partnership and the work you do in our collective effort to keep New York City safe. I will now turn it over to the commanding officer of our Gun Violence Suppression Unit, Deputy Chief Jason Savino.

Deputy Chief Jason Savino, Gun Violence Suppression Division, Police Department: And thank you. And I’ll share the D.A.’s sentiment, Happy Valentine’s to everybody out there. It’s a real special day, not only for Astoria and Woodside, but for everybody.

So with that, I have to start with, we all collectively share a vision. What is that? To keep everybody safe. We share a passion, a drive, a desire to keep our neighborhoods secure. And you’ll see me reference to saying, “Our,” because we’re all equal partners. What do we want in our neighborhood? We want to be able to walk freely amongst our peers. That neighborhood feel that just makes everybody feel safe. To live without the fear of gunfire and enjoy a quality of life we all deserve. And today, once again, we have brought this goal even closer. And I’m just so genuinely proud to announce that today our beautiful Queens is just a bit safer with some of the most dangerous individuals in all of Queens now in custody.

But before I go into the investigation, I just want to extend just extreme gratitude to our case detectives, Detective Greg Perpall and Detective Darren McFadzean, whose expertise and dedication towards this mission of reducing gun violence brought us to this day. And I also just have to mention the supervisors of the case, the team leaders, Sergeant Sandy Rodriguez and Captain Ryan Gillis, who along with all our many partners — which I’ll ultimately circle back to — just provided such focused guidance throughout this entire investigation.

And just quickly note, we’re just so blessed with an entire team at Gun Violence Suppression Division. We love our community. Let me repeat that: we love our community. Our team cares for our community like we would our own family. We take our mission, obligation, and purpose of protecting our members, we take it to heart, we make it personal. So today’s announcement is noted and more to come. It shows that our team will remain absolutely relentless in addressing the senseless gun violence. Let’s get right into the case.

So actively moving is an investigation addressing several gangs that have committed violence in the northwestern portion of Queens, namely Tru Cash Gettas and 8 Trey Crip set stationed in Woodside Houses as well as King of Queens, G-Squad and Hip Hop Boys, all opposing Crip sets which frequent Astoria Houses. This investigation addressed shooters. As with all of our cases we’re talking next level, precision policing where our investigation remained laser focused on trigger-pullers, on those that fire bullets without remorse and without fear of consequence.

23 total subjects. Of those 23 subjects, 18 have been arrested for a shooting-related incident or are being charged with a shooting related incident on at least one occasion. And as the mayor noted earlier, eight of the 23 have allegedly fired a gun more than once. Simply put, these subjects are the alphas of the gangs. The gangs’ most threatening members, that small group of individuals that have no problem shamelessly firing guns and endangering our greater public. Every member in the community knows exactly who these individuals are. Why? Because they do everything they can to avoid them, well aware that they can create threatening conditions and potentially place all in danger. And as noted, that includes children.

Let’s speak once again to the incident that initiated this case. So in March of 2021, the murder of Ms. Gudelia Vallinas — it demands repeating, 37 years young — she ventured to the store to buy milk for her two children, 11 and 9-years-old. Just prior to leaving, Ms. Vallinas sent a picture to her husband of the food she had just prepared. Now take a moment to think about that. Ms. Vallinas is our American dream whose life was suddenly halted due to gang members recklessly firing bullets with total disregard of anybody around them. Absolutely horrific. I know I’ve said it many times, but it also bears repeating. Fired bullets have no names. Fired bullets have no names. A theme we’ve so tragically seen too many times.

Now our beautiful members of Queens deserve to be able to enjoy the beautiful parks, walk along Broadway or Steinway Street without any fear of gunfire. These gangs did all they could to intimidate our streets. And we’re all here to say quite proudly, “No more. Criminality does have consequence. And this is exactly what it looks like.”

So in all, right now, 16 subjects are now in custody as a result of our investigation. I also want to mention this is one of numerous, numerous takedowns our Gun Violence Suppression Team has initiated and we will never lit up. We will keep our promise and our obligation with the ultimate goal of eliminating gang and gun violence. Lot of kudos around just to make this happen. First, a special thanks to the community that we so proudly serve. Our community, traditionally, these cases have a tremendous impact upon depleting violence. If history repeats itself, and we’re quite certain it will, you will experience a better quality of life. You will have that neighborhood feel that you deserve and you will feel safer. We are gracious to be a partner. Thanks to our Queen Squads, that 114 squad and that homicide squad, along with the 114 Precinct and PSA 9 F.I.O.s, Field Intelligence Officers. Our teams have held hands throughout this investigation and have certainly enabled great results.

Our D.A., Ms. Katz, we have stood here before and we will stand here again. You have always dedicated and committed your entire team’s partnership. John Sennett, in particular as a godsend, along with Joanna Matuza and Andres Sanchez. Our Chief of Detectives, Jimmy Essig, you created Gun Violence Suppression Division and your mentoring and support has saved lives. What an awesome accomplishment. Our police commissioner, you hold our torch just so proudly and your genuine passion towards keeping this great city safe is so heartfelt. Thank you for being our leader.

And finally, Mr. Mayor, we are absolutely privileged to represent you. Under your guidance, our communities have so much to be thankful for. You have taken policing to the next level. This is why we became cops, to be the gatekeepers of our beautiful city and you enable our teams to do just that. We are honored to serve you.

Now I know that’s quite a bit of kudos, but it’s also a reminder. If we all work as one cohesive team — and this is especially true during challenging times — if we realize and embrace that we are all pieces to this complex puzzle and we will need every single one of us: N.Y.P.D., our partners and our community, we will continue to curtail this senseless violence. We tackled this mission collectively and as a result, once again, our community is safer. Thank you.
More at www.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor


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February 2023

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