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Suspected Bloods gang member indicted in Baldwin Harbor killing, federal prosecutors say

Dylan Cruz, 27, of Brooklyn, an alleged member

Dylan Cruz, 27, of Brooklyn, an alleged member of the Bloods street gang. Credit: State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

A 27-year-old alleged Bloods gang member from Brooklyn has been indicted on federal charges that he killed a suspected rival gang member in Baldwin Harbor as part of a war between street gangs on Long Island and Brooklyn, authorities said Wednesday. 

Dylan Cruz, of Brooklyn, also known as "L Banga" and "Red Lane Banga," was charged with nine counts of racketeering, conspiring to murder rival gang members, murder in-aid of racketeering, armed robbery and firearm charges, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Central Islip. 

Cruz, alleged by prosecutors to be a member of the Red Lane Gorillas set of the Bloods, was ordered held without bail Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bianco on the indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Dec. 12. 

Cruz is currently serving an 8-year prison sentence for a May 2016 robbery, according to the prosecutor's memo to the judge requesting Cruz be detained without bail. 

Cruz pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, said his attorney, Nancy Bartling of Mineola.

“It’s designated a complex case; there’s voluminous discovery on this matter,” said Bartling. “Obviously we’re going to vigorously defend it.”

Cruz is due back in court on March 1 for a status conference.

Richard P. Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement: "The charges in the indictment reflect the extreme danger Cruz posed to communities on Long Island and in Brooklyn as he allegedly killed a man mistakenly thought to have betrayed a gang member, shot and paralyzed a suspected rival gang member and wounded two bystanders in furtherance of the Bloods’ criminal enterprise."

According to prosecutors, between 2010 and 2016 Cruz and other members of the Red Lane Gorilla set were "engaged in a violent gang war against rival gangs" including the 5-9 Brims set of the Bloods in Nassau and Brooklyn. 

Prosecutors say they have evidence linking Cruz to almost a dozen violent crimes, including one killing, a half-dozen attempted slayings and multiple armed robberies, according to the detention memo.

The indictment charges Cruz with the July 2012 slaying in Baldwin Harbor of Anthony Richard, whom Cruz and fellow gang members suspected of setting up another Bloods member, James McClenic of Roosevelt, to be killed by the Crips, prosecutors said.

Cruz, according to prosecutors, fired at least 15 shots into Richard's parked car, killing him and severely wounding a passenger. Prosecutors said there is no evidence Richard played any role in McClenic's December 2010 killing at a Hempstead gas station.

Cruz is also charged in the indictment with the attempted murder of a suspected rival gang member in Roosevelt in November 2010, in which the victim was shot in the back and paralyzed. Cruz is also accused of the attempted murder of a second rival gang member — of the Rollin' 60s Crips — in January 2013 in Uniondale, in which a bystander was shot in the foot.

Cruz, according to the indictment, also committed a gunpoint robbery at a used car dealership in North Merrick in June 2016, in which an employee was pistol-whipped by Cruz and an alleged co-conspirator.

Cruz's criminal record stretches back to 2008, prosecutors said in their detention memo.

He was convicted in 2008 of criminal mischief and sentenced to 63 days jail as a youthful offender for kicking and breaking the window of an office at the Berkshire School in Canaan, New York.

In 2011, according to prosecutors, he was convicted of second-degree felony attempted criminal possession of a weapon when he was found with a loaded, defaced .40 caliber pistol in Brooklyn. He was sentenced to 2 years in prison in that case. 

He was convicted in 2011, 2013 and 2015 of crimes including resisting arrest and identity theft. And in 2017, he pleaded guilty to brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence in an armed home-invasion with three others, in which nine people were held captive inside a Brooklyn apartment while the robbery crew stole $15,000 in cash and $10,000 in money orders and jewelry, according to prosecutors. 

The allegations in the new indictment were investigated by the FBI's Long Island Gang Task Force, the Nassau County Police Department's Gang Investigation Squad and Homicide Squad and the NYPD's Gun Violence Suppression Division, Violence Reduction Task Force and its Firearm Investigation Unit, authorities said. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Boeckmann and Michael Maffei, of the office's Long Island Criminal Division, are prosecuting the case. 

Several other members of the Red Lane Gorillas set of the Bloods are charged in a separate indictment with conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder in-aid-of racketeering, assault in-aid-of racketeering and related firearms charges, authorities said.

Prosecutors said its efforts were funded by Project Safe Neighborhoods, a Department of Justice initiative to combat violent crimes in communities nationwide. The program awarded $30 million in grants in October, according to the DOJ.

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