Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Charles Gardner, the Commissioner of the Yonkers Police Department; and George N. Longworth, the Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, announced the unsealing of an indictment charging 11 defendants with a series of crimes, including the distribution of narcotics and the use of firearms in Yonkers, New York.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, “Our drive to remove armed drug gangs from Yonkers remains unrelenting, as evidenced by today’s arrests and charges. With motivated and cooperative law enforcement partners involved, we are a step closer to our goals.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos stated, “Combating the scourge of drugs in our cities remains a focus for this office. Like we’ve seen so many times before, these drugs also brought guns and violence. We will continue to work with any law enforcement agency to clean up our cities’ streets.”
Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner stated, “This operation is yet another example of our successful partnership with federal authorities in targeting a violent street gang on a local level. It should be a warning to any other groups in Yonkers who choose to engage in this activity. I want to thank U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the FBI, and the Westchester County Department of Public Safety for their efforts in this investigation.”
Westchester Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth stated, “This is another example of the tremendous results that occur when federal and local law enforcement work together to maximize our resources to combat drug trafficking and the violence that goes along with it. We remain committed to working with all our law enforcement partners to keep the people of Westchester safe.”
A two-count indictment, United States v. Joaquin Thatcher, et al., charges 11 members and associates of a violent street gang hailing from Riverdale Avenue, known both as Two Gunz Up and simply Riverdale, with narcotics and firearms offenses. Specifically, the following 11 members of Two Gunz Up—Joaquin Thatcher, a/k/a “Wu"; Paul Foster, a/k/a “Pauly Pistols"; Charlie Jiminez, a/k/a “350,” a/k/a “Gucci"; Torrel Smith, a/k/a “Assassin"; Craig Major, a/k/a “Millz"; Reese Moore, a/k/a “Loc"; Anthony Oliver, a/k/a “Ant Pooh"; Daquon Powell, a/k/a “DP"; Dwayne Carr, a/k/a “Weezy"; Jimmie Hughes, a/k/a “Jim Jim"; and Alexander McCray, a/k/a “AWOL”—are charged with conspiring to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, crack cocaine and marijuana from about 2006 up to about October 2013. Eight of these defendants are also charged with using, carrying, possessing, and discharging firearms during the narcotics conspiracy.
The indictment is the result of a long-term investigation conducted by federal, state, and local law enforcement officers working with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and supported by the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force. As part of that investigation, in March 2009, this office obtained indictments charging three members of Two Gunz Up and the Elm Street Wolves, an allied Yonkers street gang—Gregory Fuller, Davon Young, and Thomas Chambliss—with the January 2008 murder of a narcotics dealer in northern Yonkers. Fuller, Young, and Chambliss were each convicted after trial of murder, conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, robbery, and firearms offenses and were sentenced to 100, 65, and 45 years of imprisonment, respectively.
In August 2011, 66 Yonkers gang members—47 members and associates of the Elm Street Wolves, 12 members and associates of the Cliff Street Gangsters, and seven other individuals—were charged with narcotics trafficking and firearm offenses. Five of the Elm Street Wolves defendants were also charged with the murder of Christopher Cokley, a/k/a “Bracks,” a leading member of the Strip Boyz, a rival Yonkers gang. Each of those defendants has since been convicted, many of them facing mandatory minimum sentences of between 10 and 18 years of imprisonment. Only one of those defendants, Steven Knowles, the leader of the Elm Street Wolves, proceeded to trial. After trial, Knowles was convicted of murder, racketeering, narcotics, and firearms offenses and now faces a mandatory term of life imprisonment.
Two Gunz Up, from Riverdale Avenue, has historically been aligned with other street gangs, including the Elm Street Wolves and the Cliff Street Gangsters, in a violent dispute with a number of rival gangs, including the Strip Boyz from the nearby Schlobohm Housing Project on Schroeder Street in Yonkers. In June 2012, 23 members and associates of the Strip Boyz were arrested and charged with narcotics trafficking and firearm offenses. Fifteen of these defendants have pled guilty, with all but one facing mandatory minimum sentences of between 5 and 12 years of imprisonment. The remaining cases are not yet resolved.
All 11 defendants charged in the indictment were arrested or have previously been taken into custody. They were presented in White Plains federal court. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the Yonkers Police Department. He added that the investigation is continuing.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division and Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Hartman and Andrew Bauer are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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