Decryption | Guns, rap and shootouts

(New York) The Brooklyn-based aspiring rappers from the Blixky Gang collective have a particular fondness for handguns. They point several towards the camera in a video called Word to Folk that was posted on YouTube last October. However, last Wednesday some of them were charged with firearms trafficking.

Posted on Aug 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

Richard Hétu Special collaboration

According to the indictment, Courtney Schloss, a member of the Blixky Gang, and her accomplices acquired 87 handguns over nine months with the help of a Georgia-based straw man. In some cases, the pistols are said to have been sold to members of the collective. In others, they would have fallen into the hands of New Yorkers who would have used them to commit crimes.

A total of nine people were charged.

“Today’s arrests put an end to the alleged arms trafficking of these nine defendants,” said Audrey Strauss, federal attorney for the southern borough of New York, at a press conference in Manhattan.

PHOTO ANDREW KELLY, REUTERS

Audrey Strauss, federal attorney for the southern borough of New York

These arrests should also send a message to anyone considering illegally selling guns to New Yorkers or smuggling guns into New York City: we and our law enforcement partners are watching them. And we will fully prosecute arms dealers.

Audrey Strauss, federal attorney for the southern borough of New York

Brooklyn is of course neither Rivière-des-Prairies nor Montreal-North. But the most populous borough of New York, like several others in New York and the United States, faces a problem common to some boroughs of Montreal, namely that of the shootings.

And illegal firearms are fueling this scourge in New York and Montreal. Hence the interest to take a look at how their traffic seems to work south of the 49th parallel.

A “Rondo” or a “Jordan”?

“Rondo”, “Jordan”, “small televisions”. According to the indictment, Courtney Schloss and others used these names and phrases to identify the handguns their customers were looking for in their text messages.

“Rondo” was a reference to Rajon Rondo, a professional basketball player who, according to the indictment, wore the number 9 on several NBA teams. The alleged human traffickers would have used this name when they needed a 9mm pistol. When they wanted a Glock 23 they would have mentioned the last name of Michael Jordan, the famous number 23 of the Chicago Bulls.

As for “small televisions”, they were used to refer to small-caliber handguns.

According to the indictment, texts from Courtney Schloss alias Bway or Balenci and their main accomplice James Thomas alias Spazz were addressed to the Georgia-based straw man Duvaughn Wilson alias Dupree.

Wilson is alleged to have purchased at least 87 handguns from at least six dealers in his state. Each time they forced him to sign a form stating that he was not buying guns on behalf of a third party.

According to the prosecutor, most of the weapons in the luggage compartment of buses to New York went. Eighteen guns were reportedly intercepted by police during a stop in South Carolina but could not be linked to the traffickers. They would have made sure to erase their fingerprints before boarding.

PHOTO ANDREW KELLY, REUTERS

Southern New York attorney Audrey Strauss describes how she indicted members of the rap collective Blixky Gang of Georgia arms trafficking at a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday.

According to the indictment, the weapons that arrived at their destination were sold to various people, including New Yorkers, who were not allowed to possess them due to their previous convictions.

The document alleges that one of the handguns was recovered by police after it was dropped by a suspect who used it to fire three bullets at NYPD officials in the Bronx last February. Another weapon was reportedly found last month following the execution of a search warrant relating to the arrest of a man wanted for murder in Brooklyn.

And other guns, too, have reportedly been acquired by members of the Blixky collective who allegedly exhibited them in another video titled Guns in the Booth.

Formation of federal units

The alleged human traffickers are charged two weeks after the US Department of Justice established five federal arms trafficking units in as many major American cities. Those cities that have seen a sharp increase in homicides over the past year and a half are New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington.

“We want to do everything in our power to eradicate the established trade routes that all too often have allowed weapons to be diverted to the illegal market and into communities like New York,” said Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general of the United States the press conference in Manhattan.

She said the investigation into the charges against the nine suspected traffickers began before the new units were created.

New York recorded 900 firearms incidents from January 1 to August 1, 2021, more than in all of 2019.

In May 2020, Nick Blixky, or Nickalus Thompson’s real name, one of the most promising rappers of the Blixky Gang collective, was himself a victim of gun violence. Less than a month before his first “mixtape” was released, the 21-year-old was found lifeless on a late Sunday evening on a street in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn. He had been hit by seven bullets.

Shortly afterwards, a competing rapper had himself photographed standing on a destroyed tombstone and wearing a T-shirt that read “Rest In Piss Nick Blixky”.

Such humiliating news was posted on social networks last week by a rival of Jerry Willer Jean-Baptiste, rapper member of the Profit Boyz collective, who was killed in the shootings in Rivière-des-Prairies.

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