Projects Brooklyn housing

Federal prosecutors have charged Ronald (Ra Diggs) Herron with three brutal slayings — including one connected to his online boasts.How dangerous was the Gowanus Houses five years ago? Even the project’s most violent gang leader wore a bulletproof vest for protection.

Charismatic kingpin Ronald (Ra Diggs) Herron also happened to be the cause of much of the mayhem, as a jury will hear this month when he goes on trial for murder and drug trafficking.

Herron, charged in a 23-count racketeering indictment, could go away for life if convicted. His reign of alleged dope selling was brought down by snitches, posting rap songs about committing crimes on YouTube and littering in the Brooklyn housing project he had terrorized.

“I stopped hundreds of people in my career and he’s first person who was wearing body armor, ” Police Officer Carlos Anchundia testified in Brooklyn Federal Court recently.

Herron wasn’t carrying a gun when he was stopped by the cop, but he received a summons for tossing a cellophane gum wrapper on the ground. The next day, the feds issued a grand jury subpoena for the heavy military-style body armor he was wearing.

I stopped hundreds of people in my career and he’s first person who was wearing body armor.

Herron’s case is the federal government’s third prosecution strike since 2005 against drug crews in the Gowanus and the neighboring Wyckoff Houses. Past gang leaders Gerald and Robert Price are serving life terms and more than a dozen of their minions are also incarcerated.

“As time went on, Herron’s status in the Bloods rose along with the reputation and strength of his enterprise, until Herron became one of the highest ranking Bloods in New York, ” Assistant U.S. Attorney Shreve Ariail said in court papers.

Despite the takedowns, Gowanus remains one of the most crime-ridden housing projects in the city, with 62 index crimes in 2013 — a category that includes murder, rape, robbery and assault. That’s more than triple the number of serious crimes reported in 2009, the year before Herron was taken off the streets.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said that federal investigations have made projects like Gowanus safer for residents, but the takedowns are not a panacea.

“We do not imagine we are going to eliminate crimes in any particular areas which include housing projects, but we do believe the prosecutions have improved the quality of life for residents, ” Lynch said. “We are part of the solution ... but we are not able to federally prosecute every crime that occurs in a housing project.”

Longtime tenant Ed Tyree, 65, said things have gotten better at the 1, 100-unit complex compared to the Wild West atmosphere of the past when drug dealers, and not the Housing Authority, appeared to rule the area. “They (drug dealers) sat in the swings on the playground and dealt so your kids couldn’t use the swings, ” he recalled. “I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I think it’s gotten better.”

Herron, 32, is a larger-than-life figure — handsome with the chiseled physique of a body builder. He was half of a budding rap duo called the “Murda Team” with partner Uncle Murda. They recorded a CD called “Pray for My Enemies” featuring boastful lyrics about murder, mayhem and the grim realities of project life. He hung out with rapper Waka Flocka and former Knicks forward Al Harrington and promoted his songs on Internet radio shows.


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