Six suspected gang members arrested on felony charges three months ago in what Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini called a “tremendous hit” against two rival factions are no longer in custody, and police and prosecutors are blaming each other.

One of those suspects was arrested again four days after his release on assault charges for allegedly slashing two people.

Police fault the district attorney’s office for failing to indict the six suspects facing felony charges, law enforcement sources said, while a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota said the evidence police presented was not sufficient to bring to a grand jury in time.

The arrests also came at a time of tension between the police department and Spota’s office, law enforcement sources said, in the wake of the resignation and arrest last year of former Chief of Department James Burke, who had worked in the district attorney’s office. Burke pleaded guilty in late February to violating the civil rights of a Smithtown man and orchestrating a departmental cover up of his misdeeds.

Only 1 out of 13 arrested still in custody

Thirteen people were arrested in the Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 raids, which were the result of “special operations teams” at the police department’s seven precincts executing warrants at homes flagged by residents as suspected hubs of the narcotics trade.

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The six facing felony drugs and/or weapons possession charges who were not indicted were released on their own recognizance or posted bail.

Six others have since posted bail or been issued field or desk appearance tickets on misdemeanor charges. The one defendant who remains in custody is being held on a parole violation stemming from an unrelated conviction.

The arrests were announced weeks after newly appointed Suffolk County police leaders said they were launching an all-out effort to refocus the department’s drug enforcement efforts on shutting down “drug houses” in residential neighborhoods.

Since taking over the department in January, Sini has re-established ties with federal law enforcement, pulled three officers from Spota’s office to work on the same gun suppression team that made the February gang arrests and eliminated the Thomas J. Spota Prosecutor of the Year award. The first such award, which was created by Burke, was given to Christopher McPartland, a top Spota aide who himself has received a target letter from federal authorities and is now under a federal microscope.

Investigation ‘did not establish legally sufficient evidence’

Spota spokesman Robert Clifford said the defendants who didn’t post bail were released after not being indicted because the weapons that police seized had not been fully tested in time.

“The police investigation did not establish legally sufficient evidence to present the case to a grand jury within the time frame permitted without further laboratory testing of the weapons for the presence of DNA and/or other evidence establishing who possessed the weapons,” Clifford wrote in an emailed statement. “The weapons were recovered from behind a Sheetrock wall and in a crawl space. None of those arrested made any statements admitting possession of the weapons.”

Suffolk County police would not comment on the drug arrests, citing an ongoing investigation.

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One of the felony suspects released, William J. Montgomery, 28, of Wheatley Heights, was charged with slashing two people in a Bay Shore store four days after he was let go. He was released on those assault charges after posting $30,000 bond on March 2.

Gang activity has long been a scourge in Suffolk County. According to a 2012 study issued by the county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, there were 1,401 identified gang members in 1999 representing .01 percent of the population. A decade later, the study said there were 4,103 gang members identified representing about .029 percent of the Suffolk population, which has remained relatively constant.

Sini: Arrests ‘a tremendous hit’ on gangs

Sini has said combating violent crime, partnering with federal authorities, shutting down drug houses and seizing weapons are his administration’s top priorities and also a way to hit gangs where they thrive the most.

Flanked by police officers at a news conference at Yaphank police headquarters on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini holds one of the illegal weapons seized during a raid. Photo Credit: James Carbone

At the time the 13 arrests were announced Feb. 19, Sini said the roundup was a “tremendous hit” for the county that took a fearsome group of warring gang members off the streets.

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“We believe that the execution of both search warrants prevented a violent altercation between these two rival gangs,” Sini said at the time.

On Feb. 23, an assistant district attorney was waiting with police detectives outside a grand jury room in Riverhead to present the case of those arrested on Feb. 17 with a copy of a crime lab report on the drugs that had been seized when at about 1 p.m. she received a phone call, the sources said.

The prosecutor stepped away to take the call, then came back and told the detectives to go home, the sources said. No indictment occurred and Montgomery, who had been held on $300,000 bond or $150,000 cash, was released on his own recognizance.

Only one of the 13 — Jessiah Lowe, 30, of Amityville — remains in custody. Lowe’s detention stems from a parole violation on an unrelated case.

Only one of the 13 arrested in February 2016 who officials said are suspected to be gang members -- Jessiah Lowe, 30, of Amityville -- remains in custody. Lowe's detention stems from a parole violation on an unrelated case. Photo Credit: Only one of the 13 arrested in February 2016 who officials said are suspected to be gang members — Jessiah Lowe, 30, of Amityville — remains in custody. Lowe’s detention stems from a parole violation on an unrelated case.

State law requires someone accused of a felony to be indicted within either 120 hours or 144 hours — depending on whether the date of arrest falls on a weekend or a holiday. If no indictment is handed up, the charges are not dropped, but the suspects must be released until their next court date.

In order for a grand jury to indict someone accused of felony charges — including those involving drugs or weapons — it must review evidence presented from a prosecutor.

Police confiscated two loaded assault weapons, a scoped rifle, a loaded revolver and a loaded 9-mm pistol during the two Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 executions of the warrants and sent them to the crime lab to be analyzed.

On Feb. 17, police found 142 grams of crack, numerous rounds of ammunition, three high-capacity magazines, nine cellphones, a digital scale and nearly $1,000. An additional 9.6 grams of crack and 3 grams of marijuana were recovered in a vehicle from a subject entering the residence when police showed up, authorities said.

According to the county medical examiner, Dr. Michael Caplan, the weapons confiscated on Feb. 17 had been fully analyzed by 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 23 just hours before the assistant prosecutor took the call to send the detectives home.

Copies of the crime lab report for the Feb. 19 search warrant show police submitted the weapons for testing to see if they were actually functional on Monday, Feb. 22. Results of the report dated Feb. 29 show that a stun gun and a Smith & Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic pistol tested positive for functionality and that two pistol magazines and 14 cartridges of ammunition were the proper size and type for the 9 mm. weapon. By the time the report came back, however, the two charged with felonies on Feb. 19, Rahsaan Alexander and Natalege Alexander had either made bail or were released on their own recognizance.

Copies of the crime lab report — dated Feb. 23 — on drugs seized at the Feb. 17 raid show that the substances tested positive for cocaine, carisoprodol, oxycodone and marijuana, enough to indict everyone, the sources said.

But Clifford said in an email, “The same issues of proof regarding the recovered firearms exist with the drugs that were found hidden at the premises. None of the defendants at the location admitted ownership or possession of the narcotics and the case remains under investigation.”

Hermann Walz, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who teaches courses on law and evidence, said it would make sense not to go before a grand jury with just evidence that illegal and operable weapons were recovered during the first search because those weapons were found behind a wall. He said unless prosecutors could link them to someone in the home through DNA, which typically take much longer than five to six days to come back from the lab, it would make the case more difficult to sell to a grand jury. The whole point in building a case, he said, is to connect the suspects to either the weapons or the drugs.

“It is a little strange that if you have 142 grams of crack, there is no connection being made,” Walz said.

Police arrested eight people during the Feb. 17 operation at 90 E. Smith St. in North Amityville at what officials described to be a known gang hangout.

Montgomery, Emile Pacheco, 27, of North Amityville, Dajone Fields, 22, of North Amityville, and Tarazzi Wilkins, 21, of North Amityville, all face felony charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. Pacheco, Fields and Wilkins were released after posting bonds.

Lowe was initially charged only with unlawful possession of marijuana. The other three — Lashanda Gabriel, 34, of Ronkonkoma, Taj Jackson, 38, of Wheatley Heights, and Desohn Hunter, 28, of Wyandanch — all face misdemeanor charges. Gabriel was released Feb. 18, Jackson was released Feb. 17 and Hunter was released Feb. 19.

During the Feb. 19 operation at 58 Miller Ave., North Amityville, Rahsaan Alexander, 37, of Amityville, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a narcotic drug, criminal possession of controlled substance with intention to sell, criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal possession of marijuana and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. All those charges are felonies. He was released on Feb. 22 on $200,000 bond.

In that search, police found a loaded 9 mm gun, two high capacity 9 mm magazines, stun guns, 1,092 grams of marijuana, 11 grams of cocaine, a small quantity of heroin, oxycodone, a digital scale, four ounces of gold bars and about $11,000 cash.

Natelege Alexander, 34, of Amityville, was charged with felony third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Alexander was released on her own recognizance on Feb. 20.

The other three arrested all face misdemeanor charges — Tyron Doe, 28, of North Amityville, Twimonisha Alexander, 38, of Amityville, and Terrance Mason, 26, of North Amityville. Police seized a 9-mm. loaded gun, drugs and more than $10,000 cash, police said from that search.

Doe, Twimonisha Alexander and Mason were released the same day they were arrested and given field and desk appearance tickets, respectively.

Police said the suspects arrested on Feb. 17 are part of a gang called “No Beef Chase Chicken,” or NBCC. Those arrested on Feb. 19 are members of an opposing gang called “Swerve,” police said.