By Jennifer Peltz
NEW YORK — A violent, destructive gang of gun-toting toughs as young as 17 stashed guns in mailboxes, storm drains and stoops and used them in turf battles with rivals in central Harlem, authorities said Friday.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., police and the FBI said they had dismantled a gang that inflicted shootings, other violence and fear in an area around 129th Street and Lenox Avenue. Some 19 people have been indicted on conspiracy charges, and some also face attempted murder, weapons and other counts.
While some gangs seek weapons to keep others out of their drug-dealing fiefdoms, this one apparently just fought over turf for turf's sake, Vance said.
"It is territorial, not commercial," he said at a news conference, standing in front of a table laden with a semiautomatic Chinese SKS military rifle, a TEC-9 machine pistol and about a dozen other guns authorities said they had recovered from the group. Authorities said it went by names including "Goodfellas/The New Dons" and "One Twenty-Nine" or "OTN."
Police, FBI agents and some sheriff's deputies in Virginia acquired 15 guns from the gang though search warrants, sales to undercover agents and other means, prosecutors said. The Virginia deputies intercepted one of the members driving two guns to New York, according to prosecutors.
Back at home, the group kept the firearms in apartment building mailboxes, on rooftops and other spots, "allowing gang members — and anyone else who stumbled upon them — easy access to those deadly weapons," Vance said. During a search last year, police found a 5-year-old in an apartment where the gang had stored three guns, Detective Angus Mackenzie said.
Two members — both 17 — face attempted murder charges stemming from shootings at nearby housing complexes.
"An example needs to be made of these kids and the adults that enable them to wreak havoc on our communities," said Jackie Rowe Adams, the co-founder of Harlem Mothers Stop Another Violent End, a local group that aims to prevent gun violence.
Eighteen defendants have been arrested so far; they pleaded not guilty at arraignments Friday. One remained at large.
The arrests come about two weeks after five men were convicted of running a violent drug gang, also in central Harlem. They were among 14 people who were convicted or pleaded guilty in that case.
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Copyright 2011 Associated Press