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New York attorney general's office, Syracuse police arrest 52 in drug gang crackdown

Ellen Abbott
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman discusses his office's joint effort with Syracuse police on a 12-month long investigation called Operation Bricktown that focused on a notorious gang operating out of Syracuse’s southside.";

Dozens of alleged members of one of Syracuse’s most notorious gangs are off the street following Operation Bricktown, the first series of arrests in an initiative from the New York state attorney general’s office to get drugs off the streets.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman came to Syracuse Thursday to announce the arrest of more than 50 individuals with 370 crimes, ranging from drug dealing to murder conspiracy charges. Many of the individuals are allegedly members of the Bricktown Gang.

"They have terrorized the southside of Syracuse for more than a decade," Schneiderman said. "Today we take a big bite out of that sort of terrorist activity."

Over the course of a year-long investigation led by the attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force and Syracuse police, authorities confiscated cocaine, heroin, drug paraphernalia and several weapons, including one that had been involved in 13 shots fired incidents in Syracuse. Schneiderman believes it was a communal weapon passed from gang member to gang member.

"It’s good to have a weapon like that off the street," Schneiderman said. "When you find a gun that’s in use that much, with the serial number obliterated, there’s not possible legitimate use for that. It indicates the level of violence we allege in the indictment.”

During Operation Bricktown, investigators also stumbled upon a couple of plots by gang members to murder a group of rival gang members in Syracuse. One member of this group allegedly declaring “It’s war time” against their rivals.

This takedown is the first for the attorney general's SURGE Initiative. It’s meant to target drug dealing gangs who sell heroin and commit violence in suburban and upstate communities. This comes as an opioid epidemic continues to ravage many upstate communities.

"We will not allow our communities to be ripped apart by this crisis and the violence that comes with it," he said. "So the SURGE initiative is going to build on the work we are already doing. And the good work that our organized crime task force has done to collaborate with our colleagues in law enforcement to create an even more effective strategy and target the hardest hit communities.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.