The New York Police Department executed its biggest gang raid on June 4, and it was made possible by mining 1 million Facebook posts.
The raid was an attempt to stop a violent four-year feud that raged between two Harlem housing projects, the General Ulysses S. Grant Houses and the Manhattanville Houses, according to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.
A total of 145 indictments were issued for 103 suspects, including murder, assault and conspiracy. The indictments were enabled through data posted to Facebook and other social media sites. More than 40 people were taken into custody.
NYPD Chief William Bratton and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the suspects are members of the "3Staacs" gang and their rivals, the "Make It Happen Boys" and "Money Avenue."
Online abuse and provocations are now being used by prosecutors along with phone taps and written statements, Gizmodo reports.
Some online posts took credit for stabbings and shootings. One post asked for "$200 to help purchase a .40 caliber firearm for $450." Another stated, "damn now somebody gonna get hurt real bad."
“The terror that the many thousands of people who live there must have felt over these last several years,” Bratton said. “They’re not fighting over drug turf, it’s just mindless, senseless violence.”
“These three gangs were not sophisticated drug trafficking organizations, far from it," Vance said. "They were young people protecting their territories from imaginary threats and avenging the murders of fellow gang members. For at least four years, these gangs waged a campaign of violence simply for the sake of violence.”
Housing project residents say arrests are not enough to help their kids.
“These kids don’t have nothing to do,” father Taylonn Murphy told the JJIE. “We’re just going to keep trying to do what we’re doing. We asked the city for help and we got a raid.”