A dozen members of the trigger-happy “Chico” gang that authorities say has terrorized East Harlem since 2016 were taken off the streets Friday.
The crew, based at the Wagner Houses, saw 12 of its alleged gang-bangers indicted on charges including conspiracy to commit murder, assault and weapons possession.
Prosecutors say the group is responsible for 17 shootings, mostly around the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem.
Five were hauled into Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday where they pleaded not guilty after a probe by the Manhattan District Attorney and NYPD. Others were in custody already for unrelated and related crimes. Two have not yet been arrested.
According to the indictment, the “Chico” members were upset over the death of Juwan (Chico) Tavarez and shared their feelings on Facebook.
“They kill my lil homie Chico, that’s why we keep them rugers wherever we go, when we see a opp that’s when we blow,” wrote 22-year-old Eric Garcia, aka “Rick Bricks,” shortly after Tavarez’s fatal shooting.
“Cuz we killing n****s just for Chico. #CHICOWORLD b***h.”
Tavarez, whose street moniker is the crew’s namesake, was shot and killed at age 16 in March 2016.
Since his death, the “Chico” gang has made it their mission to go after anyone who disrespected their late associate, prosecutors said.
“I’m bouta get on some real savage s**t I cant live with the fact that n****s did that to Chico,” Garcia said in an August 2016 post.
Chico suspects Ashton Berry, 20, aka “Ash Gunz,” Lamar Ware, 20, and Jason Williams, 19, were allegedly involved in a mid-day incident on April 11, 2017 in which Williams allegedly fired a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol into a crowd that included children.
A 22-year-old victim was hit in the leg, officials said.
“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants waged a deadly campaign of retaliation, spraying East Harlem with bullets with no regard for the lives of their neighbors or the safety of their community,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said in a statement.
Vance said that a third of all Manhattan shootings last year took place in two precincts that cover East Harlem.
“It is our obligation to ensure that New Yorkers in every neighborhood not only are safe, but that they feel safe at all times, too,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill added.