Feds collar seven in Melrose mega-bust

Eight alleged members of a violent Melrose-based gang called the Courtlandt Avenue Crew have been indicted on murder and federal racketeering and drug trafficking charges, that could result in the death penalty for two of the defendants, if convicted.

Five of the defendants were arrested in a massive raid involving nearly 100 officers from three agencies on Sept. 27. Two were already in custody before the arrests, and another remains at large.

Joshua Meregildo and Melvin Colon are charged with murder and could face the death penalty if convicted on the federal charges. Meregildo is charged with the slaying of Carrel Ogarro on July 31, 2010 around 300 E. 158th St.. He and Earl Pierce are also charged with the attempted murder of a rival dealer in September of last year near 321 E. 153rd St.

Colon is charged with killing Delquan Alson on August 27, 2010, around 285 E. 156th St.

The others were identified as Nolbert Miranda, Lebithan Guzman, Aubrey Pemberton, Felipe Blanding, and Javon Jones. All face a range of weapons and drug charges. Miranda is still at large. 

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the indictments on the day of the raid.

“For far too long, narcotics trafficking and the violence it spawns have threatened this Bronx community,” Bharara said, and added “we have taken another significant step toward cleaning up this neighborhood so that residents no longer feel like they are putting their lives and the lives of their children in jeopardy when they walk out their front doors.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the US Marshals Service and the NYPD collaborated in making the arrests.

Members of the Courtlandt Avenue Crew were involved in selling crack and marijuana, and resorting to murder and other acts of violence to defend their drug turf, according to the indictment. Some of the gang members also are alleged to belong to another gang that calls itself God’s Favorite Children.

The five defendants who were taken into custody and the two already in prison were expected in Manhattan federal court on the afternoon of the raid.

This is not the first takedown of Courtlandt Avenue Crew members, a federal official said, and added that it won’t be the last.

Delano A. Reid of New York’s ATF division said the arrests were “law enforcement’s second strike against this violent gang terrorizing the Melrose section of the Bronx,” and added “We will continue to launch an attack against this armed violent gang, its drug dealers and murderers, in order to give back the streets to the Courtlandt Avenue residents.”

NYPD brass had been on alert to the threat of revenge killings between members of rival gangs, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the indictments would help stop the “retaliatory violence among competing crews that plagued Melrose.”