After a 16-month investigation, 15 tenants of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) were arrested on drug and conspiracy charges, as well as three employees, two for allegedly buying marijuana while on duty and one for providing drug dealers an apartment from which to conduct their drug deals.
New York City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) announced the arrests on Jan. 19 and said that they were the result of a joint investigation by local, state, and federal agents into the Towaz Boyz gang.
“During the course of the investigation, DOI investigators discovered NYCHA was fully aware that two of the defendants charged today had allegedly sold narcotics in NYCHA apartments, lobbies, and stairwells, and had been Permanently Excluded from NYCHA property. Furthermore, when NYCHA became aware that these defendants were still living in the NYCHA apartments in violation of the Permanent Exclusion policy, the Authority failed to take further enforcement action to protect other Sheepshead/Nostrand residents, the DOI said in a press release.
Two of the former NYCHA tenants arrested had been arrested before at the Sheepshead/Nostrand Houses for selling crack cocaine, and another had been charged with armed robbery, the DOI said.
“I’ve been here for 12 years, and when I moved here, it was alright, it was good. But now, after the years went by, it’s not safe no more. I don’t feel safe anymore coming out at night,” said Sheepshead/Nostrand resident Lisa Gonzalez.
The DOI has released a report detailing a number of suggestions to keep gang activity out of the city’s public housing, such as conducting an audit of all the arrests referred to NYCHA by NYPD to evaluate the authority’s response to them.
“People deserve to leave their homes without fearing the drug dealers and violent gang members loitering around their front doors,” said William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI New York Division. “The FBI NY Metro Safe Streets Task Force and our partners the NYPD and the City of New York Department of Investigation worked closely on this investigation to stop illegal criminals from disrupting people’s lives. We want this case and these arrests to serve as a warning that we will leverage these partnerships to stop future gang members hoping to fill the void.”
With reporting by Salina Wang