Residents of a sleepy, treelined block in Gravesend woke up this morning to find their homes and cars vandalized with graffiti that appears to be associated with a particularly ruthless drug gang.
At around 8:30am, we found confused neighbors standing outside their homes on East 2nd Street near Avenue X in house dresses and slippers, trying to decipher the blue scrawlings, which identified several organized crime groups, including the California-based Sureños” (SUR 13), and called out a group called the Warrios (perhaps a reference to the fictional Coney Island Warriors?).
“It says ‘fuck Surenos.’ What does Surenos mean anyway?” demanded one woman.
“They’re marking their territories. That’s how I interpret it,” said a man, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation.
Here in New York, MS-13s have a very strong presence in Queens and they are currently the largest street gang in Long Island, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office. Since 2003, more than 250 MS-13 members, including dozens of gang leaders, were convicted on federal felony charges in the city — more than 150 of them on federal racketeering charges.
Since 2010 alone, more than 35 MS-13 members were convicted in New York for their roles in 20 different murders. Most recently, three teens — alleged members of MS-13 — were charged with the brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Long Island, according to news reports.
Neighbors say at least four people called the police in relation to the East 2nd Street vandals, and at around 9am, we saw an NYPD Smart Car drive up the block. However, despite frantic waving from distraught home owners, the cruiser didn’t stop.
The NYPD’s press office told us that no official complaint has been filed, though the NYPD’s 61st Precinct responded to a request for comment at around 1pm today, thanking us for bringing the incident to their attention.
“The report has been taken. From the graffiti, it appears to be associated with the Surenos 13 gang. It is under investigation. As of right now we have nothing further,” wrote 61st Precinct Community Affairs Officer Danny Chiu in an email.
In a similar incident last summer, graffiti associated with Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and SUR 13 were seen scribbled on New Utrecht Avenue buildings in Bensonhurst as well as on the 86th Street Marshall’s department store.
At the time, police sources told us there were no known gangs in the area.
“There hasn’t been any organized gang structures in the area, however, when you see tags and you see graffiti that reference things, it raises a concern and we are looking to interview anyone who might have information,” said 62nd Precinct Commanding Officer Captain Anthony Sanseverino at the time.
According to a recent NYPD data map from the New York Daily News, gang activity is rather sparse in southern Brooklyn. The only active gangs in Gravesend or Bensonhurst, according to the map, are the “Marlboro Houses Hat Boys” — obviously concentrated at the Marlboro Houses — and a speck on 20th Avenue and 86th Street, indicating the alleged turf of the “Cropsey Crew.”
One neighbor told us he suspected the graffiti was the handiwork of local kids trying to feign toughness by associating themselves with ruthless drug lords.
“I’m sure there aren’t Mexican drug gangs that are 18 years old, running around the neighborhood, spray painting in the middle of the night. It’s like saying I’m Al Capone’s buddy, you know what I mean?” he said.
Among the targets of the graffiti spree was the East 2nd Street-facing wall of former City Councilman Domenic Reccia’s law office, located at 172 Gravesend Neck Road. A secretary at the office said Recchia was not in today, and that she had not noticed the spray paint.
“I came in from the other way,” she said.
Clarification: An earlier version of this article classified Sur 13 as a Mexican gang. They are not from Mexico, rather, they are a California-based gang, that is aligned with the Mexican Mafia, a Mexican American organized crime organization. We sincerely regret any confusion this error may have caused.