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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 13, 2019

Bloods Gang Member Indicted for Racketeering and Double Homicide on Long Island

Defendant and Fellow Bloods Gang Member Fatally Shot Victims During a Robbery near the Long Island Railroad Station in Bay Shore

Taheem Smith, a member of the Bloods street gang, was arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown in federal court in Central Islip on an 11-count indictment charging him with racketeering, murders in aid of racketeering of David Arzu and Janelle Curella, robbery, firearms charges and narcotics possession and distribution.  Smith was arrested yesterday and was ordered remanded pending trial by Magistrate Judge Brown.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI), and Geraldine Hart, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), announced the charges. 

“As alleged, the defendant murdered an innocent man and woman to increase and maintain his own standing in the ruthless Bloods street gang,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue working unrelentingly to end the violent careers of gang members like Smith and decimate gangs like the Bloods to which they belong.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his appreciation to the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force for their work on the case.

"Violent gangs believe they can act with impunity, as if their actions don't impact innocent people,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “Mr. Smith allegedly killed two people just to rob them.  No amount of money is worth a human life.  Our FBI Long Island Gang Task Force and law enforcement partners continue our determination to stop all illegal gang activity from destroying the peace in communities, and bring the members and leadership to justice.”

“It is alleged that just over three years ago, Smith murdered two during a robbery on a Bay Shore street.  As a member of the Bloods gang, Smith’s proclivity for weapons, violence and drugs regularly spilled out into our Long Island neighborhoods,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh.  “Partnerships among law enforcement continues to be paramount in gang investigations because our communities can no longer tolerate the volatility associated with criminal gangs.”

“These charges levied upon Mr. Smith today exemplify our commitment to apprehending those who act on such violence and prey on those who are vulnerable,” stated SCPD Commissioner Hart.  “We will continue to work with the Eastern District of New York and our law enforcement partners on all levels to dismantle gang activity and rid our communities of illicit drugs and unlawful behavior.” 

As alleged in the indictment and court filings and proceedings, on the evening of September 2, 2016, David Arzu, Janelle Curella and two friends were walking toward the Long Island Railroad Station in Bay Shore.  Smith and his co-conspirator approached the group, brandished firearms, and demanded the victims’ money and valuables.  During a struggle, Arzu and Curella were shot.  They died of their wounds a short time later.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, Smith faces up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher C. Caffarone and Mark E. Misorek are in charge of the prosecution.    

The Defendant:

TAHEEM SMITH (also known as “Ta”)
Age: 25
Farmingville, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-417 (ADS)

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Contact: 
John Marzulli United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated September 13, 2019