Gang Members Could Face Death Penalty for Killing

May 5, 2011 Updated May 5, 2011 at 11:30 PM EDT

By John Borsa

May 5, 2011 Updated May 5, 2011 at 11:30 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - West Side residents praised Buffalo police and federal authorities after a series of morning raids netted eight suspected gang members.

"I absolutely love it. The more police the better it is," said Tom McGrath, who watched as police raided a home Thursday morning.

"There's a lot, a lot of drug activity in this area, and I get sick of it," resident Patrick Pfalzer said.

Six members of the Seventh Street Gang and two members of the competing 10th Street Gang were arrested, bringing the total to 35 gang members arrested since federal authorities and Buffalo police executed a crack-down on West Side crime last fall.

"When we said last year all of us in law enforcement are serious about taking back the streets, giving them to the citizens and removing the violent criminals from our community, we were serious," said William Hochul, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.

Four of the six Seventh Street Gang members arrested are charged with the murder of a rival gang member and could face the federal death penalty if convicted.

"The attorney general under our rules has the ultimate discretion and I could never predict how he will exercise that in this case," Hochul said about whether the suspects will be eligible for execution.

The rival gangs have been the cause of much violence on the city's West Side.

"They've been in existence for many years and I can't tell you, countless homicides, countless shootings, terrorizing the neighborhood, the whole West Side," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.

The gangs are nearly out of business, he said.

"There's some remnants still left," said Derenda, "but we'll work on that."