It felt like a time warp on Wednesday night when an unexpected headline hit the wires: "NYC authorities take down 'Bad Barbies'." This is not a scene from The Warriors. It is real. The NYPD also brought down the "One Seven Hoes." And despite the promising-sounding reports from the mayor's office, it would seem that New York City is still dealing with a gang problem.
All things considered, Wednesday's gang bust is good news. With help from the Feds, the NYPD successfully busted 40 members of the infamous Bronx Trinitarios. Among them was the ringleader of the Bad Barbies, and one 24-year-old woman who wore knee-high boots to her arraignment. In total, nine murder charges and 24 attempted murders were levied against the gang members. "We weren't surprised to learn that the Trinitarios were up to no good in the Bronx," said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. "But the Bad Barbies? Who knew? Maybe it's a sign of the times that gender is no bar when it comes to murder, robbery and other crimes." Meanwhile, another 41 gang members were arrested by Brooklyn authorities in Bushwick.
The near 100 hundred total arrests practically doubles the number of busted gang members in New York since 2009. The massive crackdown comes just two months after the NYPD doubled the size of its gang unit in the face of increasing violence that some believe has been propagated by an increased gang chatter on social media. "By capitalizing on the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploits on Facebook, detectives used social media to draw a virtual map of their criminal activity over the last three years," said Kelly in October. Yet with all the modern accoutrements, the gang situation in New York is starting to sound like the "Bronx is burning" era of the 1970s.
We'll go ahead and attribute a decent amount of that sensation to crazy-sounding headlines that include gang names like the Bad Barbies and the One Seven Hoes. The fact of the matter is that gang violence in New York continues to be directed mostly at rival gang members. Big busts like Wednesday's should also help New Yorkers feel a little safer. Mafia-style killings in the Upper West Side, though? Seriously horrifying.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.