The unique language posted on social media sites by members of warring Brooklyn street gangs not only gave cops a glimpse into their coded communications — it also led to 43 arrests.
“The officers who made this case became experts in the lexicon as they followed gang members on Twitter, on Facebook and on YouTube,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a press conference announcing the arrests.
Police said members of the Hood Starz and the Wave Gang took to the web to brag about violent crime in Brownsville. Law enforcement sources said gang investigators have increased their monitoring of social networking sites.
In this case, social media chatter helped link the gangs to six murders since June 2010 during an 18-month probe dubbed “Operation Tidal Wave.”
The online boasts also revealed colorful nicknames for the gang members. Members of the Wave Gang were called “Woo” and members of the Hood Starz were called “Chew,” Kelly said.
The Hood Starz are generally from the Marcus Garvey Houses, while members of the Wave Gang repped the Langston Hughes Houses, police said.
Among the suspects in the sweeping indictment was Sahiah (Uzi) Davis, 16, a member of the Wave Gang. She was already at Rikers, held without bail after being slapped with a murder charge in August. She’s accused of killing another teen in Brownsville.
The indictment details a slew of charges, including murder, conspiracy to commit murder and robbery. The NYPD, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office and the city’s special narcotics prosecutor conducted the investigation.
In addition to the murders, authorities linked the gangs to 32 shootings, 36 robberies, two burglaries, seven grand larcenies and 33 arrests for gun possession. A shootout in August involving the gangs wounded a 9-year-old boy and his father, authorities said.
The suspects are between 15 and 21.
“The gangs had a longstanding feud over territory, leading to wanton and reckless behavior where kids would shoot at each other because they were in the wrong gang or on the wrong street or in front of the wrong building,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said.