Thirty-three alleged gang members were taken down in an early morning bust by the NYPD, the DEA and FBI that investigators say have been operating out of the Millbrook Houses in the Bronx for the last decade.
Juan Aguila, a man who has seen the changes through the decades, says the Millbrook Houses in the Bronx are all he’s ever known.
"It's very dangerous," Aguila said. "There might be shootouts and all that at night."
So Aguila tells PIX11 he was surprised to hear the NYPD and federal agents — in a joint sting — were here to conduct a drug raid early Wednesday morning.
Thirty-three alleged gang members, led investigators say, by 29-year-old “Big Mike” White, all part of what federal prosecutors describe as a criminal enterprise responsible for, “…the distribution of narcotics, including marijuana and cocaine base…”
In other words, crack.
And that the “MGB” gang protected their enterprise by using, “…physical violence and threats of violence against various people…”
“We’re always talking to them about the dangers of being in gangs,” said Althea Stevens.
Althea Stevens runs Millbrook, and two other community centers in this neighborhood.
She says the challenge, and we’ve heard this so many times over the years in housing developments struggling with drug and crime activity, is convincing young boys at a crossroads – 10, 11, 12 years old - to head the community center, and away from the street corner.
“A lot of times the kids are at that point where they’re accessible to gangs and different things out there. So really making sure that we have programs so that kids can be somewhere safe,” said Stevens.
Still, it’s going to take more than one bust.
“I go home and stay home, and i don’t’ come out at night,” said Juan Aguila.
Because there is a reluctant acceptance among residents that this latest drug bust of nearly three dozen young men in the South Bronx, while certainly productive, perhaps just made room the next wave of predominantly black and brown boys - to replace them.
Finding the resources to stop that cycle.
Lead community center supervisor Althea Stevens tells PIX11 News in lieu of the additional funding her programs so desperately need, her staff members are actually working for free — volunteering every Friday night, to keep the centers open for the children who live in this neighborhood.