Named “Operation Peacekeeper,” the raids came amid years of investigations into increased gang violence and drug trafficking in East Harlem.
Helicopter footage from the massive take—which netted both drugs and guns—identifies the targets and shows the police department and federal agents pull up to the NYCHA-run project houses in convoy fashion.
Dressed in combat gear—including body armor and assault rifles—the federal agents as well as NYPD officers swarmed several apartments at the Washington Houses, Metro North Plaza Houses, and Lexington Houses at around 5 a.m.
The recent slaying of NYPD Detective Randolph Holder pushed the departments to hone into and act on the area before it became uncontrollable. Holder was responding to a call of gunfire near the Washington Houses when he became involved in a chase, which escalated into a gunfight.
Police used evidence from that incident to help investigators this time around. Holder’s shooter, 31-year-old Tyrone Howard—who is now facing murder charges—was “loosely affiliated” with some gang members that were apprehended on April 19.
In response to the collaborative effort, the NYPD’s Chief of Department James O’Neill said: “This morning is a very good morning, we were able to take 32 very bad people off the street. This is going to make East Harlem a lot safer.”
And of the connection to Holder’s slaying, he said: “Some of the same people involved with that are involved with this.”