It's the largest gang bust since 2006. Law enforcement officials arrest 13 people who are thought to be part of Syracuse's Bricktown Gang. As our Katie Gibas reports, it's taken years of investigating to break up Bricktown.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Three years, two murders, and extensive drug trafficking: That's what it took for law enforcement officials to build a solid case to arrest 13 alleged gang members.
"Just having a suspicion that a gang exists is not enough. You have to go back and go through the files and go through the acts and try to find the links. Once, you do all that then you have a case, but it takes a tremendous amount of time," said John Katko, an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
In an early morning bust, law enforcement officials arrested six people who join seven others already behind bars for their alleged involvement with the Bricktown Gang which operates on the Southside of Syracuse between Colvin and Adams Streets.
"Today's arrests mark an important step in the process of making the streets of Syracuse safe from gun violence," said Rory O'Connor, an ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge.
Members are accused of two murders, eight other shootings and two stabbings in the city. In both murders, police say gang members killed innocent people while seeking retaliation against rival gang members. The most recent instance was the November murder of 20-month-old Rashaad Walker Jr. by gang member Saquan Evans.
"They're all at a minimum significant members of the gang. When you're killing a 20 month old child or killing innocent victims and shooting a woman in the head, you're a significant member of the gang. And you need to be held accountable," said Katko. "I don't think we've ever had a gang prosecution where two innocent people were murdered, let alone, a 20-month-old child. They're all different, so I can't categorize one as more violent than the other or that one is more significant than the other. At this time, it was one of the most significant gangs operating in the city. I would have to say that.”
Even though this investigation is over, authorities promise it won't be the last.
"We will continue to use every tool we have to make sure that we stop this violence in its tracks and prevent this violence," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
Frank Fowler, the Syracuse Police Chief added, "This task force still exists and somebody is next. Someone will be next. If you continue to fire off guns in our community, if you continue to commit violent acts within our neighborhoods, we're coming for you."
If convicted each defendant faces up to life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release following any period of incarceration.
Bricktown Gang Indictment