More than two dozen members of rival street gangs based in the Poughkeepsie area are facing federal racketeering charges including murder and conspiracy.
In total, 31 people are charged in the indictment unsealed Thursday. Eleven suspects were arrested in and around Dutchess County Wednesday afternoon and early Thursday; one was taken into custody in Florida and one in North Carolina. The other 18 defendants were already in custody on state charges and are being transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment.
The indictments arise from a joint investigation by the FBI’s Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, the Poughkeepsie Police Department, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office into the gang war between Uptown and Downtown. The rivalry has led to multiple fatal and non-fatal shootings since 2012 in Poughkeepsie, officials said.
"Two violent Poughkeepsie street gangs have been at war with each other for the last several years," Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim said in a statement. "Their war has left in its wake a bloody trail of tragedy – alleged murders, attempted murders, shootings, and rampant drug dealing … When gangs flourish, neighborhoods suffer, parents grieve, and children die; it is as simple as that."
The murder counts include the March 2016 shooting death of Caval Haylett, the 18-year-old bystander gunned down at a barbecue where he had been celebrating a big win in All-Star basketball game. Also included: the December 2012 slaying of Daquell LeBlanc, a 17-year-old Poughkeepsie resident.
"Two young lives were lost in the alleged ongoing criminal activity of these street gangs," FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said in a statement. "We will not sit idly in the midst of violence, as shown by the diligent and dedicated work of our FBI Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force and our law enforcement partners."
The defendants, who range in age from 21 to 43, face varying charges including racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, narcotics conspiracy and weapons offenses. Some of the counts carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.