The sometimes tedious work of logging shell casings — and a new law-enforcement pact with gang-bangers — helped New Haven detectives put six alleged gang members they believe responsible for unsolved shootings behind bars.
That explanation emerged Thursday in discussions with city and federal law-enforcement officials involve din a year-long investigation that culminated in an Aug. 3 13-count indictment handed down by a New Haven grand jury against six accused members of the Goodrich Street Boys (GSB), a Newhallville gang, for racketeering, attempted murder, firearm and narcotics trafficking offenses. Police believe the six carried out more than a dozen unsolved shootings in New Haven.
The alleged culprits, all Elm City residents, range from 18 to 25 years old. Four of the alleged culprits were arrested on Wednesday and appeared before Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons that afternoon in Bridgeport; the two others, who were already in detention, were arraigned on Thursday. They now face at minimum five years in prison and maximum life sentences.
In interviews, officials said the highly targeted crackdown represents the new approach to quelling organized crime under Project Longevity.
Based on a yearlong investigation, law enforcement believe that the GSB members sold weed, crack cocaine and heroin, and were responsible for a rash of assaults and shootings from September 2015 through May 2016 over beefs with rival gangs, like the vicious R2 and Starrblock in Newhallville and Slutwave in the Hill. In the indictment, authorities said the shootings injured five people.
“When you have a small group of people that run around terrorizing a community, when three or four guns lead to 18 to 25 shootings, it’s critical that we get these people off the street,” Police Chief Anthony Campbell said. “It sends a message to this community that we’re going to make sure that we live up to what we talk about.”
Local cops said that after three firearms were recovered from the alleged GSB members, detectives used cutting-edge ballistic analysis, based on the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, to tie the guns to cartridge cases that were found at the scene of least 18 unsolved shootings. Facebook pages confirmed what the spent rounds suggested, and the feds, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Markle and his associates Joycelyn Kaoutzanis and Rahul Kale, went forward with prosecution.
Unlike in years past, when massive sweeps might lead to as many as 35 gang members in handcuffs, as happened in the “Operation Bloodline” blitz on the Tre Bloods gang, this week’s indictment reflected the new pact that law enforcement has made with gang-bangers. Project Longevity, which is already being affected by the state’s budget crisis, delivers a dual message to criminal crews: We’re here to help for those who want it, and we’re coming after those who continue the violence, even as juveniles, said Lt. Karl Jacboson.
As AUSA Markle put it at Thursday’s CompStat meeting, “You talk about the numbers being low, only six people being arrested, but I think the impact is equal to having 50 in the old days. It really speaks to the way you’re doing policing now and we’re doing prosecuting,” he said. “We used to do roundups of 40 people. Truly, four or five of those were probably the ones we needed to get off the street. There were a slew of others who deserved to be prosecuted but were not really worthy of all the resources that you and we devote to these cases. In this case, we were very precise. We picked the right six targets. We did them the right way.”
Markle also credited the intel meetings, which happen four days a week among all the Project Longevity partners, with staying on top of the case. “We hear so much talk about partnerships and collaboration, and it’s just talk often. This case shows the essence of it, the value of it, the culmination of it,” he said.
A range of partners contributed to the investigation. The bulk of the casework was done by federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’s lead Mike Zeppieri and his two agents, Mike Sorrentino and Brian Ross, plus the New Haven Shooting Task Force’s Lt. John Healy and Det. Ryan Macuirzynski as leads, and Sgt. Nicholas Katz, Det. John Folch, Det. Ryan McFarland and Inspector Joe Howard on the street. Others in the police department’s criminal intel unit assisted, as did the Department of Correction’s Lt. Thomas Durant, the Hamden Police Department, the state’s probation and parole, and the State’s Attorneys Office.