Bronx detectives and federal agents have smashed a violent south Bronx street gang responsible for a drug-related shooting and murder spree.
In all, 20 members and associates of the Courtland Avenue Crew have been convicted or pleaded guilty to federal charge that will send at least two of them away to prison for the rest of their lives with no hope of parole.
The others face lengthy prison terms, with the latest convictions coming last week in Manhattan federal court of four key members on various racketeering, murder, narcotics, and firearms offenses.
The gang, whose members ranged in age from 16 to 28, terrorized a major stretch of the Melrose neighborhood. along Courtlandt Avenue between 151st and 158th streets, across from the Jackson and Melrose houses, authorities said.
“The Courtlandt Avenue Crew cast a pall over the Bronx neighborhood in which it operated – terrorizing residents with lethal violence and flooding the streets with narcotics,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “With today’s verdicts, two of its members now stand convicted of murder and a host of other violent and drug-related crimes, and will spend the rest of their lives in prison, and a third faces decades behind bars.”
Bharara pledged after the convictions that the fight against drugs gangs will continue.
“While justice was done today, the destruction and despair wrought by gangs goes on and we will continue to bring the weight of the law down on them.”
The gang’s ultimate downfall began in June, 2010 when it got into a murderous turf war with a rival gang.
Detectives Victor Harris and Jason Allison of the 40th Precinct squad and Detective James McSloy of Bronx Homicide began putting cases together, and were soon joined by agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
They saw their efforts come to a successful conclusion on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the end of a nine-week trial when a jury handed down guilty verdicts against the last four defendants.
The four showed no reaction as they sat at the defendants table hearing the jury’s verdicts, with the courtroom devoid of any family members.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III set April 19 for sentencing.
Joshua Meregildo, 22, and Melvin Colon, also 22, both face life in prison without parole.
Along with other charges, Meregildo, 22, was convicted of murdering Carrel Ogarro on July 31, 2010 at 300 E. 158th Street.
Colon, also 22, was also convicted of the August 27, 2010 murder of Delquan Alston at 285 E. 156th St., as well as involvement in the shooting of an innocent bystander on Sept. 8, 2011 at 600 Morris Ave.
Earl Pierce, 27, also convicted of assaulting and trying to murder a rival drug dealer on Sept. 13, 2010 at 321 E. 153rd St., faces 45 years to life, while a gang associate, Nolbert Miranda, 25, faces five to 40 years on narcotic conspiracy charges.
Sixteen other gang members pleaded guilty earlier to various related charges, authorities said.
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394