NYPD officials say they are turning up the heat on gangs around the city before the summer's hot weather arrives. NY1 Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger has the details.
The NYPD says it just getting started with dismantling gangs. In the last month, at least 219 gang members have been arrested for violence and drug dealing.
"We wanted to set the tone through these tack-downs just before the summer — when violence traditionally spikes — to send the message that violence will not be tolerated in this city," said NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill.
The arrests have taken place in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Harlem, and East Harlem, with names like Operation Peacekeeper and Operation Stoppin' The Poppin.
"We've taken these groups — mainly who've self-identified, by the way — on social media, and others through graffiti, as well as body markings," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. "They're the ones creating the crime in this community. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback."
"On Webster Avenue, the Young and Rich Savages, this is a subset of the Mac Baller Bloods," Boyce continued. We arrested 11 subjects."
Wednesday, police arrested 21 people in an alleged gang bust in the Bronx.
Two weeks before that, officials conducted the largest gang takedown in city history, arresting more than 100 people during an overnight raid of Bronx public housing complexes.
And they promise there's more to come, with numerous gangs slated to be hauled in.
"We are going to take another 20 down before the Fourth of July," Boyce said Thursday. "So if I was a gang member creating havoc and doing violence, I'd be afraid of going to jail. Especially a lot of these gang members — they are being prosecuted federally, which means they are going westbound."
Statistics show gun arrests are up by 22 percent so far this year and shooting incidents are the lowest they have been in decades.
The police department says that it is not trying to keep this a secret, and that it knows who are the violent gangs and individuals. Police say they will definitely be arrested if they don't stop the violence.
"We are calling in gang members beforehand, before cases are initiated in some occasions, and saying, 'We know what you're doing. Stop or we will be coming after you.'" said Dermot Shea, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Operations. "So it's not just arrest and put in jail as the sole answer; that is one of the strategies deployed."
"If they are not nervous, they should be nervous," O'Neill said. "This is something that we do and do very well."
And the chief says these investigations have been going on for over a year, so there's plenty of evidence.