(CBS) NEW YORK - Over 40 members of two feuding gangs have been indicted in connection with a series of shootings and killings in Brownsville, Brooklyn after they boasted about their crimes on Twitter.
CBS New York reports the violence stemmed from territorial disputes between the Wave Gang and the Hood Starz, the office of District Attorney Charles Hynes said.
In the last year, three people were shot dead and 19 others, including innocent bystanders, were injured.
On Thursday, authorities announced charges against 43 members of the two rival gangs in Brownsville. The charges were a result of a long investigation during which officers pursued the gangs not only on the streets, but also on Twitter and Facebook, where members left a trail of clues as they bragged of their violent crimes, police said.
Charges against the defendants, the average age of those arrested being 17, include murder, assault, robbery and conspiracy.
Police commissioner Ray Kelly said a special squad cracked the gangs' lexicon by following their social network postings to link the crimes to suspected murders.
The New York Times reports when gang members ventured into territory controlled by the rival Wave Gang, they called it "going to the beach," on the social networking site.
When these outings occurred, it often led to shootings between the rival groups. When Hood Starz gang members would shoot a rival Wave, they congratulated themselves with another phrase.
"They would say they 'clapped him off the surfboard,'" Kelly said.
In the last 18 months, the gangs were responsible for 6 homicides and 32 shooting episodes. Most of shootings occurred in or around Brownsville that left 38 people wounded, Mr. Kelly said.
The most serious charges these gang members face are second-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy, both of which carry maximum penalties of 25 years to life in prison. At least 16 of those indicted were already in custody. Eight of the 43 are being sought, officials said.
Thirty-five guns were recovered during "Operation Tidal Wave."