News Release
July 18, 2006
Contact: SA Erin Mulvey
212-337-2906

Double-Murderer Sentenced to 45 Years in Federal Prison for Robbery and Drug Slayings

JOHN P. GILBRIDE, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Field Division and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that GABRIEL TORRES, a/k/a “G-Bear,” was sentenced on July 18, 2006 by United States District Judge LORETTA A. PRESKA to forty-five years in prison without parole for the murder of Raymond Serrano on December 2, 1999, in the Bronx, New York, and for the murder of Gamaliel Gonzalez on October 2, 2002, in the Bronx, New York. TORRES pleaded guilty in December 2005 to both crimes, in addition to narcotics and racketeering violations in New York and Pennsylvania; his subsequent attempt to withdraw his guilty pleas was denied by the Court. In imposing sentence, Judge PRESKA stated that as a result of TORRES’s crimes, “there are two people dead and untold others whose lives have been ruined.”

Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride stated, “DEA is dedicated to keeping violent drug traffickers off of the streets of New York City. The Drug Enforcement Task Force REDRUM investigative unit, made up of DEA Special Agents, New York Police Department Detectives and New York State Troopers, along with the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York invested numerous hours and their safety in this case to show the lengths we will go to stop the violence surrounded by drug trafficking.”

“The Westchester Avenue Crew terrorized neighborhoods in the Bronx, and this sentence is an appropriate response to the violent acts committed by this defendant as part of that criminal operation,” stated Mr. GARCIA.

According to a criminal complaint filed in connection with the murder of Raymond Serrano, TORRES was part of a robbery crew that targeted individuals they believed were drug dealers. On December 2, 1999, TORRES and three others entered Serrano’s home posing as police officers. After demanding money, while TORRES’s three co-conspirators held Serrano’s wife and children at gunpoint, TORRES shot Serrano at close range, killing him. TORRES and his fellow assailants then fled the Serrano residence.

In addition to home invasion robberies, TORRES sold heroin and crack cocaine in the Bronx, New York, and in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as a member of a gang, known as the Westchester Avenue Crew, based in the St. Mary’s Housing Projects on Westchester Avenue in the Bronx, New York. In October 2002, according to the Information filed against him, TORRES, in an effort to enhance his position with the Westchester Avenue Crew, conspired with others to kill one of the gang’s leaders, Gamaliel Gonzalez. According to the Information, TORRES ordered a coconspirator to murder Gonzalez; the co-conspirator, a juvenile, subsequently shot Gonzalez to death inside an elevator in a Manhattan apartment building. Both murder cases were investigated by DEA agents NYPD Detectives and NYSP Investigators assigned to the DEA Task Force “Redrum,” which handles drug-related homicides. No suspects were apprehended at the time of Serrano murder, and TORRES was not charged until 2003 when information developed by the Redrum Task Force in implicated him.

In addition to admitting his role in the two murders, TORRES admitted to selling crack cocaine and heroin in both New York and in Bethlehem, Pennsyvlania, and to firing a gun at rivals in Pennsylvania. Among the other thirteen members of the Westchester Avenue Crew who have been convicted of narcotics and firearms charges, as well as crimes of violence, the following defendants have also been sentenced as follows by Judge PRESKA:

Defendant, Sentence
Kenneth Garner, 35 years
Alexis Arzola, 30 years
Derick Johnson, 24 years
Melvin DeJesus, 22 years

Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative efforts of the DEA and the NYPD.

Assistant United States Attorney HARRY A. CHERNOFF was in charge of the prosecution.