A six-month undercover investigation that targeted members of the Bloods and the Crips gangs in the Far Rockaways, Queens, ended this week with the arrest of 56 people and the seizure of drugs and guns, the New York Police Department said Thursday.
The women and men, ranging in age from 16 to 53, were charged with crimes that included drug sale and gun possession, stemming from a probe that began last fall, said the lead investigator, Det. Joseph Cruzado of the Queens gang squad.
Of those arrested, Cruzado said about 30 people were known to police as members of the Bloods and Crips gangs. Police also seized nine guns and drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy pills.
Cruzado estimated the street value of the drugs to be about $30,000. The serial numbers on the guns had been removed, he said.
What is noteworthy, Cruzado said, is that gang members are sharing guns and moving the weapons around to avoid being arrested and charged with gun possession. "They're not carrying firearms anymore. They're stashing them," Cruzado said.
Gang members are hiding their guns in places such as mailboxes and trash cans, giving them easy access to the weapons, he said.
"If we come across a firearm, we could not charge someone," said Cruzado.
A spokesman for the NYPD said that gang members are changing their habits because of the department's controversial practice of stop and frisk.
Cruzado said the 16-year-old was a member of the Crips gang, which used the boy to deliver drugs and ferry guns from one apartment to another to avoid police detection.
"They were constantly moving them from location to location," he said.