NYC gangs joined forces to terrorize neighbors, boasted about violence in rap songs: feds
By Joe Marino
Members of two ruthless Bronx gangs – including a teen rapper charged with murder – joined forces to terrorize their own neighborhoods while boasting about the “real acts of violence” in rap music, the feds said Thursday.
The “Sev Side” and “Third Side” street crews banded together in 2019 and carried out “indiscriminate” shootings against rival gang members, according to a statement from Manhattan federal prosecutors.
One of the shootings took place on Dec. 16, 2021, when Kevin Perez — also known as rapper Kay Flock — allegedly killed Hwascar Hernandez in Hamilton Heights.
Perez, 19, was arrested on state murder charges in January, and will be transferred from state to federal custody in light of the indictment unsealed Thursday.
The indictment against Perez and five other Sev Side affiliates include charges for several other shootings against enemy gang members, though none of those were fatal.
The court documents also allege that the group “promoted and celebrated criminal conduct” by referencing “real acts of violence” in music uploaded to social media.
Like the Sev Side gang, Rowson and Gant, who are both in federal custody, are accused of a slew of violent crimes and firearm offenses in aid of racketeering.
Gant, in particular, is allegedly implicated in at least three non-deadly shootings from the summer of 2020.
If convicted, Gant, Rowson, Johnson, Beamon, and Mason each face at least 10 to 20 years behind bars, prosecutors said.
Smith and Castro are staring down maximum sentences of 20 to 30 years each, while Perez is at risk of a mandatory life sentence or the death penalty, according to the feds.
“Through these charges, we will hold Sev Side and Third Side members responsible for plaguing our communities with gun violence,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Thursday.
Williams’ comments were supported by NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who referred to the groups’ “deadly nexus of gangs and illegal guns” as a major public safety threat.
“Combatting this crisis is the NYPD’s top priority, and today’s indictments are another step toward ridding our streets of violence and fear,” Sewell said.
“I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and everyone else involved with this case who worked to make our city safer for all the people we serve.”
The Sev and Third Side busts are part of an overall crackdown on gang-related gun violence throughout the city.
Last week, nearly two dozen gang members were arrested in Queens as part of an investigation prompted by the stray-bullet killing of Gudelia Vallinas in 2021.
“Gangs plus guns equal graves and our goal is to be proactive, and not just one gun at a time but to take down these dangerous individuals who are carrying around guns,” Mayor Eric Adams said at the press conference announcing the arrest.