Brick Squad gang, allegedly responsible for two murders, taken down
A Brooklyn gang allegedly responsible for two murders and numerous non-fatal shootings in the borough was taken down after a long-term investigation, the Brooklyn district attorney announced Friday.
The gang, known as the Brick Squad, allegedly sold drugs in Brooklyn as well as upstate and in Maine. Prosecutors say it was run in an old-school, hierarchical way, with a “godfather” — Howard Smith — running the operation from prison, where he is already serving a life sentence for murder.
“We’re here to talk about a takedown of a violent street gang that was selling drugs. They’re also responsible for many acts of violence here in Brooklyn, including two homicides and seven nonfatal shootings,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez at a press conference.
Ten alleged members of the gang were variously charged in a 48-count indictment with conspiracy to commit murder, murder, criminal possession of a weapon, narcotics possession and other charges.
The gang, according to Gonzalez and the NYPD, is a smaller subset of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation, itself a subset of the Bloods.
Smith, the gang’s alleged leader, caught cops’ eyes during the investigation when they discovered he had more than $25,000 in his prison commissary account. He allegedly received deposits from lower members of the gang from their drug sales.
As part of the case, investigators reviewed phone calls Smith made from prison. They say he complained in those calls that he wasn’t getting enough deposits in his commissary account from the gang members.
“I’m the fucking godfather. Right? I’m the fucking godfather,” Smith can be heard saying on the phone call.
The gang allegedly committed two murders over the past two years.
The first was the Ocean Hill killing of John Fernandez — himself an alleged member of the Brick Squad — who gang leaders believed was cooperating with police and not making enough money in drug sales, the district attorney said.
Fernandez, just 17, believed he was heading with fellow gang member Jahsaun Washington to commit a robbery at the time of the murder, according to prosecutors.
Less than a month after Fernandez’s murder, the Daily News reported that his mother knew her son was killed by a fellow gang member.
“Those people were his gods. They turned him into what they are and then they got rid of him,” his mother said at the time.
A year later, the Brick Squad allegedly struck again, this time in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Quazeer Farmer, along with Stephan Khadu and Markel Pender, shot Claudell Gary dead as part of a feud with the Gary family, the district attorney said.
The killing — execution style from behind — was caught on video.
The gang members also allegedly sold marijuana, cocaine and heroin, both in Brooklyn as well as upstate in Binghampton and in Bangor, Maine. Prosecutors claim they took in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from their drug operation.
They sold heroin laced with fentanyl, the district attorney said, leading to at least three overdoses in Maine.
Gonzalez said he spoke briefly with the district attorney in Maine to alert them to criminal enterprise.
Six of the defendants were arraigned Thursday by Supreme Court Justice Guy Mangano. Some were held without bail while others were held on $500,000 bail. The other defendants will be arraigned Friday and Monday.
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