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'Bad Barbies' face new charges in New York gang crackdown

December 14, 2012|By Matt Pearce

Good girls go to heaven and bad girls go everywhere, but Bad Barbies may just go to jail.

New York law enforcement officials unveiled new charges against Trinitario gang members whom they believe to be responsible for a spate of bloody turf battles with rival gangs over control of drug trafficking in upper Manhattan and the Bronx.

They accused the suspects of belonging to smaller Trinitario factions with names like the “Bad Barbies” and “El Combo," although the defendants are predominantly male.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday that the gang had as many as 100 female members at one point before officials began cracking down three years ago, according to the Associated Press. The new charges implicated 40 suspected Trinitario members with a long menu of crimes that included nine murders and 24 attempted murders since 2003.

"Today’s charges remind us that the gangs of New York are alive and well, but that we are dedicated to extinguishing them one by one," Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in his prepared remarks. "With today’s takedown, the Trinitarios may not yet be extinct, but they are without question an endangered species."

The organization known as the Trinitarios, a predominantly Dominican gang, was born in prison in the early 1990s, and officials have spent years trying to put its members back there. Since 2009, 119 suspected New York members have been charged.

Officials accused the gang's suspected leader, Leonides Sierra, of running the Trinitarios from the Attica Correctional Facility in New York for a while.

"As alleged, under Sierra, the Trinitarios enforced its own rules with brutality and ruthlessness," Bharara said in his remarks. "In one episode described in the indictment, Sierra ordered the murder of one of his gang’s own members simply because he was believed to be homosexual. That apparently was a violation of the Trinitarios 'code,' and a capital offense."

But most of the slain, Bharara said, were teenagers: Raffy Tavarez, Irving Cruz and Freddy Polanco, all dead at 19; Issi Dominguez at 17; and Ka’Shawn Phillips, killed when he was just 16.

Wednesday's charges accused the Trinitarios of battling over turf with other gangs such as Dominicans Don’t Play (also known as DDP), the Bloods and the Crips. Officials said they seized marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy from the gang.

“Undoubtedly there will be more young men and women attracted to lives of crime, just as there will be more takedowns to follow," Kelly said in a statement.

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