Return to Bronx’s Fort Apache? ’18 Park’ gang leader gets 35-year sentence

During the turbulent 1970’s into the 1980’s, a police stationhouse in the South Bronx section of New York City was tagged with the moniker “Fort Apache: The Bronx.” It was a rundown, decrepit part of a city that enjoyed superstar-status thanks to New York being the capital city for the news media and a large part of the entertainment industry


The New York City police department’s 41st Precinct acquired its reputation due to an enormous crime — much of it gang or drug related — especially a murder rate that dwarfed the rates of much larger cities.

Although most of the police officers who served in the Four-One Precinct are now retired, a new contingent of law enforcement officers may be facing a resurgence in the violence, drugs and street gang activities in that famous and historic police stationhouse.

For example, without fanfare or media attention, one of the main leaders of the violent Bronx gang known as “18 Park,” Marquis Wright, was sentenced on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer to 35 years in federal prison for firearms-related criminal acts that were connected with two murders that he lead, aided and abetted on behalf of the gang.

The 30-year-old Wright previously pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing and using firearms in  the Sept. 28, 2008, murder of rival gang-member, 18-year-old Brandon Howard as well as the May 29, 2011, murder of 16-year-old Johnny Moore.

Manhattan’s recently appointed U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a press statement:  “The tragic and senseless murders of Brandon Howard and Johnny Moore reflect the dangers of gang- and drug-related violence in our city. While nothing can bring back Brandon Howard and Johnny Moore, Marquis Wright’s sentence means he will spend decades in prison and not pose a threat to others in the Bronx. I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their tremendous work on this important investigation.”

According to the allegations contained in federal court documents, including the Information and a previously filed criminal complaint, and statements made during court proceedings:

From 2006 to 2016, the 18 Park gang operated primarily in and around the Patterson Houses, a New York City public housing development in the Mott Haven area of the Bronx. Members of 18 Park sold crack cocaine and marijuana on a near-daily basis, turning the area in and around the Patterson Houses into an open-air drug market. 18 Park members used firearms and violence to assert the gang’s control over the area. Wright served as one of the leaders of 18 Park, and played an integral role in running the gang’s drug trade. 

On September 28, 2008, Wright accompanied Rodriguez to a house party at 315 East 143rd Street in order to confront 18-year-old Brandon Howard, whom Wright and Rodriguez regarded as a rival. Rodriguez brought a gun to the party. Upon arriving at the party, Wright served as a lookout for Rodriguez as Rodriguez confronted Howard in the hallway immediately outside the party and shot Howard to death. 

On May 29, 2011, Wright drove another 18 Park member, Wali Burgos, to the vicinity of 2625 Third Avenue so that Burgos could shoot and kill a member of a rival gang. Burgos did not shoot a rival gang member, but instead fired his gun into a crowd and killed 16-year-old Johnny Moore. After the shooting, Wright drove Burgos away from the scene of the crime. Burgos previously pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and admitted to his role in the murder of Johnny Moore. On January 13, 2017, Burgos was sentenced to 262 months in prison. 

Berman thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for their work in this investigation.

NACOP Chiefs of Police - James Kouri

Jim Kouri is a member of the Board of Advisors and a former vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc. a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in Florida in May 1967. The Association was organized for educational and charitable activities for law enforcement officers in command ranks and supervisory agents of state & federal law enforcement agencies as well as leaders in the private security sector. NACOP also provides funding to small departments, officers and the families of those officers paralyzed and disabled in the line of duty.

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