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Forty suspected Dominican drug gang members indicted in New York

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forty top members of what prosecutors described as one of New York City's most violent drug gangs were indicted on murder, racketeering, weapons and drug charges on Wednesday.

"The catalog of crimes alleged ... is stunning - nine murders, 24 attempted murders, racketeering, robbery, assault, firearms offenses (and drug) trafficking," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told a news conference. "You name it, they did it."

The Bronx-based, Dominican Trinitarios gang "went to war against rival gangs" in recent years, including the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings, and turned "portions of New York City into a virtual shooting gallery," Bharara said.

Undercover gang investigators made 100 purchases of narcotics and firearms during the course of the investigation, authorities said.

Attorneys for the defendants could not immediately be identified. A spokesman for the Federal Defenders of New York said its attorneys were not representing the accused gang members.

Among those indicted were suspected national Trinitarios leader Leonides Sierra, who authorities said ordered murders from a cell at New York state's Attica prison, and members of a female faction known as the "Bad Barbies."

The leader of the "Barbies" was indicted in connection with a stabbing of one man and the shooting of another, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The indictments were part of a joint investigation into the Trinitarios by the New York Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Since 2009, 119 suspected members of the gang have been indicted, Bharara said.

The Trinitarios were among the most violent drug gangs in New York, Kelly said. He credited the crackdown for a 6 percent year-to-date drop in shootings in the Bronx and a 23 percent drop in murders.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Peter Cooney)

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