Sixteen members of a street gang with affiliation to the notorious Trinitarios were formally charged on Tuesday for crimes including murder, attempted murder, racketeering and drug trafficking.
The members and associates of the Own Every Dollar (OED) gang, a subset of the Trinitarios, that were charged include the OED’s leadership and some of the gang’s most violent members for the alleged murdering of five people over the past four years, committing 13 shootings, and seven robberies or attempted robberies.
“For the past four years, OED has wreaked havoc in this city,” US attorney Damian Williams said at a press conference.
The highly-organised OED gang controls the Washington Heights area in New York City and some parts of the Bronx and Queens.
They are part of the larger Trinitarios, a Dominican-American criminal organisation founded on Rikers Island in early 1990. The members of the group have to recite loyalty oaths and adhere to rules, which can only be changed by a vote, according to law enforcement authorities.
The Trinitarios gang grabbed national and international attention in 2018 with the killing of an innocent 15-year-old, Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, by chasing him down and attacking him with a machete.
Guzman-Feliz became the victim of mistaken identity at a time when the group launched a hunt for rival gang members.
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg also announced a 90-count indictment with separate charges against 10 members on Tuesday. Two of them were also charged by the federal government.
In one of the violent robberies that led to a killing, a person named Jeffrey Sanchez was fatally shot in the back outside the Opus Lounge on 20 September 2021 as he was walking toward his car. The gang members Damien Suarez and John Aslan then stood over Sanchez and ripped off a watch and jewellery from his motionless body.
In another high-profile robbery, gang members allegedly targeted two people at an upscale Chinese eatery, Philippe Chow, to demand cash and jewellery, according to the state indictment filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
One of the gang members, Justin Deaza, shot a person in the leg, prosecutors alleged. In the 15 September 2021 incident, the group members opened fire inside the eatery, leaving horrified diners fleeing the place.
NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell said: “These individuals lived by a brutal code of street violence – where firearms were recklessly pulled out and indiscriminately fired, where innocent lives were disregarded, where families and neighborhoods were traumatised and torn apart. Now they will no longer be able to terrorise New Yorkers.”
“And make no mistake: Organised groups like this do terrorise. They sow fear and disorder, and they show zero respect for the lives of the people who reside and work in the neighborhoods where they wreak havoc.”
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