The FBI and NYPD busted a ruthless Fordham drug gang Wednesday morning, rounding up suspects in the Bronx, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.
The takedown of the "Creston Ave. Crew" was the result of a lengthy investigation documenting the sale of at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and at least five kilograms of cocaine from 2004 to the present.
The crew engaged in shootings to take control of the neighborhood's drug trade from a Jamaican gang.
FBI agents arrested 10 alleged gangbangers during a 6 a.m. raid in the Bronx that turned up three guns, pounds of marijuana, cocaine and tens of thousands of dollars in cash. They also nabbed three suspects in San Juan.
All were charged with weapons possession, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, money laundering and marijuana possession. Several gangmembers are still at large.
"Today's arrests are the latest phase in an ongoing campaign to restore Bronx neighborhoods to their law-abiding residents," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice Fedarcyk.
"No matter where you live in this city, you have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of your home."
The crew was behind the drug-related murders of Christopher Santiago in 2007 and Carlos Lorenzo in 2009, both of whom were shot near the gang's main turf on Creston Ave. between E. 192nd and E. 193rd Sts., according to a 17-page federal indictment.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara called the crew's operation a "drug empire" that "terrorized" the neighorhood.
The blocks where the shootings occurred abut St. James Park and are near the Grand Concourse. An elementary school sits less than a block away, said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, hailing the takedown.
The Rev. Tobias Haller of Fordham's St. James Episcopal Church hailed the bust as a sign that police are serious about crushing drug activity in the neighborhood.
"I remember 20 years ago when there were shootings almost every day and beatings," he said. "The city has put a lot of effort into cleaning up St. James Park."
The Bronx arrests include ringleader Levit (Scooby Doo) Fernandini, William (El Culon) Rosa, and Luis (Gecko) Rivera.
Police say the cruel crew used violence to intimidate neighborhood residents and shot at rival drug dealers.
They imported marijuana from Texas and cocaine from Puerto Rico.
"Criminal enterprises like this one invariably resort to guns and violence to conduct their illicit business," said Fedarcyk.
"The FBI and our partners remain committed to policing drug enterprises, which peddle poison and degrade our neighborhoods."