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Friday, 27 May 2011

Authorities believe the Four Block Gang controlled much of the drug dealing in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood, committing drive-by shootings to protect turf and feuding with rival gangs.

12:15 | ,

An investigation that began after four teenage girls killed themselves two years ago led to a federal indictment Thursday that named 44 gang members and associates on drug and conspiracy-related charges.
Authorities believe the Four Block Gang controlled much of the drug dealing in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood, committing drive-by shootings to protect turf and feuding with rival gangs.
Those feuds, one of the indictments reads, “resulted in murders and attempted murders.”
View indictments
To view the indictments, click here and here.
One official confirmed several of those arrested Thursday are “persons of interest in several homicide probes” in Schenectady.
But it was the suicides that focused law enforcement efforts on the Four Block Gang, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said at a Thursday news conference. Three of the suicides were the direct result of harassment and belittlement suffered at the hands of gang members, authorities said. Other girls attempted suicide.
Authorities looking into the suicides soon realized there was a gang connection and an intensive federal, state and local investigation followed.
“We hope that it has dealt a crippling blow to the Four Block Gang,” Carney told reporters. “And, to the extent that some of these individuals may have been involved with these emotionally fragile young girls, and contributed to their belief that their lives were not worth living, perhaps today there is some measure of justice for them.”
More than 200 law enforcement agents descended on addresses in Schenectady and elsewhere Thursday morning, sweeping up a total of 30 suspects by mid-morning. Five others were already in custody from previous arrests.
In all, 44 face federal indictment involving acts in Schenectady, Glenville, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs and as far away as Rutland, Vt. Nine people remain at large.

U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announces indictments unsealing racketeering and narcotics charges against members of the Schenectady "Four Block Gang" on Thursday at Schenectady City Hall.
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Cash, guns, drugs
In the morning raids, authorities seized $11,000 in cash, three handguns, one AK-47 and 200 grams of crack cocaine, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said.
Of those indicted, Hartunian identified 14 specifically as members of the Four Block Gang.
The indictment, while alleging murders and attempted murders were committed by the gang, did not name specific cases or incidents. Asked about that later, Carney confirmed those included multiple killings locally. He declined to put an exact number or identify the killings.
Only two specific shootings were identified. In one, Curtis Perkins, 23, is accused of firing at a rival gang member July 21 of 2010 on Furman Street. The other occurred three days later, according to the indictment, when defendant Jose A. Serrano, 20, fired at another rival gang member on Elder Street.

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Clifford Holly discusses the operation and Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney talks about a connection between a rash of suicides among girls in 2009 and the gang activity.
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Perkins is facing a possible sentence of up to 25 years if convicted in another shooting. He’s accused of trying to kill the father of his then-girlfriend’s child Jan. 3 at the corner of State and McClellan streets. Perkins allegedly tried to kill the man while free pending sentencing on an earlier weapons possession count. He was eventually sentenced to seven years on the weapons count.
In announcing the arrests, Hartunian addressed gang members or would-be gang members: “Stop gang banging, stop engaging in acts of violence. If you don’t, you’ll end up like Four Block, in a cell block.”
Thursday’s news conference, held in Schenectady’s City Hall rotunda, was attended by many of the agencies that helped in the investigation, including the Schenectady Police Department, Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department, federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the state police.

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