PATERSON — New Jersey Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck delivered a stern message Thursday in what was his first press conference in the new role.
Bruck announced the recent takedown of over a dozen alleged drug dealers linked to the Trinitarios street gang based in Paterson, who he said were responsible for the city’s recent uptick in shootings.
Authorities learned about how the gang allegedly used violence to seize territory in the city by tapping the phones of suspected gang members.
“We’re committed to using the intelligence that we gain from these investigations to dismantle criminal networks that are fueling this violence,” Bruck said.
That violence has trickled into the streets of Paterson in recent months, where gun violence is up 38% from a year ago.
According to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s office, a total of 80 shootings have been reported between Jan. 1 and July 19 of this year; fifteen of them were fatal.
That’s is up from 59 shootings over the same time period in 2020 that resulted in 12 homicides.
The numbers are now feeding a multi-agency initiative that aims to reduce gun violence with an added focus on those with active warrants in the city and beyond.
“People don’t want to hear ‘Well it’s because of the pandemic,'” Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes said. “Victims and survivors do not want to hear that, they want to hear what we are doing to stem this tide.”
The state attorney general’s office also announced plans for a multi-city gun buy back event set for Aug. 7 that will simultaneously take place in Newark, East Orange, Atlantic City and Paterson.