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Press Release | NO. 2003-002

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Press Release # 002
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Undercover Investigation "Operation Young Guns" Culminates In 29 Arrest Warrants And The Takedown Of Three Violent Gangs Based In The Bedford-Stuyvesant Section Of Brooklyn

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf, Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, and William G. McMahon, Special-Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, today announced that the NYPD's Firearms Investigation Unit and special agents from the A.T.F. are targeting 36 people for arrest in connection with several gangs that sold illegal firearms and narcotics in the Kingsboro Housing Development in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Of those targeted for arrest, up to 19 have been charged with violating federal firearms laws in the Eastern District of New York - - some facing life in prison and up to $4 million in fines.

Today's arrests mark the culmination of "Operation Young Guns," a six-month undercover investigation that targeted sales of illegal firearms and narcotics. Members of the NYPD's Firearms Investigation Unit purchased 59 illegal firearms, including handguns, sawed-off shotguns and AK-47-style rifles. Undercover detectives also bought numerous zip-lock bags of crack and cocaine from members of the three gangs.

Commissioner Kelly said: "This is the Department's largest takedown of gun traffickers in many years. Our detectives have not only removed 59 illegal firearms from the street, they have also arrested the violent people who sold them. In addition, I commend our officers for collecting enough evidence to bring federal charges against the majority of these criminals. This is another example of our persistent effort to get guns off the street. If you try to sell illegal firearms in this city, we will bring you to justice."

U.S. Attorney Mauskopf said, "We are determined to remove violent offenders, and the tools of their trade - - illegal guns - - from our neighborhoods. The message here is clear: 'Guns mean time.' If you get caught with an illegal gun in the Eastern District of New York, you will face a stiff prison sentence. Today's charges demonstrate our commitment to getting illegal firearms, and the criminals who use them, off the streets. We look forward to continuing the close working relationship with our federal, state and local law enforcement colleagues to combat firearms violence and to make a lasting impact in our communities.

District Attorney Hynes said: "This combined effort by four law enforcement agencies indicates not only the seriousness of the problem, but also our commitment to stop gun violence. The good, hard-working, honest people of the Kingsboro Housing Development asked for our help and this was the response. On behalf of those people and the other residents of Brooklyn, I wish to thank my colleagues for joining in a strategy to stop violent crime."

Special Agent-in-Charge McMahon said: "I would like to congratulate all the Detectives, Prosecutors and Agents, who worked so diligently on this six month, multi-defendant investigation. Through their efforts, they have helped reduce violent crime and protect the public by removing illegal firearms from our streets. One of ATF's top priorities is to stem the flow of illegal weapons into the hands of criminals. In doing so, we deny the armed violent criminals access to guns and keep our citizens safe. ATF's mission would be extremely difficult without the continued assistance of Police Officers on the front lines. Our close working relationship with other federal, state and local law enforcement has enabled ATF to focus on targeting career criminals and we look forward to many more successful investigations."

Getting guns off the street is the centerpiece of the NYPD's strategy to reduce violent crime in all five boroughs. "Operation Young Guns" has already proven that strategy extremely effective. In the nine months preceding the operation, there were 11 shootings in the Kingsboro Housing Development, which resulted in one murder and 12 serious injuries. When undercover officers began buying as many guns as possible in the area, overall crime dropped by more than 35%. Since October, there have been no shootings in the neighborhood.

Today's arrests also represent an important component of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Project Safe Neighborhood program. PSN is a nationwide Department of Justice initiative which seeks to improve the quality of life in communities by reducing violent crime through the cooperative efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. The Kingsboro Houses joint investigation is a further step in PSN's strategy to target neighborhoods throughout New York for stepped-up enforcement operations and to eliminate violent organizations and illegal gun traffickers.

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