Cover image for Gangbusters : how a street-tough, elite homicide unit took down New York's most dangerous gang
Gangbusters : how a street-tough, elite homicide unit took down New York's most dangerous gang
Stone, Michael, 1948-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 330 pages : 1 map ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6439.U7 N4685 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV6439.U7 N4685 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV6439.U7 N4685 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV6439.U7 N4685 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In the bestselling tradition of Nicholas Pileggi, Joseph Wambaugh, and Robert Daley's Prince of the City, a thoroughly enthralling story of how the seasoned veterans of New York's elite Homicide Investigation Unit took down the city's most dangerous drug gang, and in the process rewrote the book on tackling gang crime. Gangbustersis a riveting narrative about the secretive, elite Homicide Investigation Unit and its successful investigation and prosecution of the notorious upper Manhattan Wild Cowboys, one of the bloodiest and most violent drug gangs in New York's long history. For two years, veteran reporter Michael Stone was granted exclusive access to the inner workings of HIU, its brilliant and iconoclastic chief, Walter Arsenault, and the seasoned, street-smart detectives and prosecutors who helped to put the Wild Cowboys behind bars. The book opens with the shocking and senseless execution of a Tarrytown college boy on the West Side Highway. Over time, the case leads detectives to the Wild Cowboys, a drug gang whose size and penchant for violence and intimidation have terrorized the South Bronx and upper Manhattan for years. HIU's attempts to bring down the Wild Cowboys' ruthless leader, Lenny, and feared enforcers, Platano and Pasqualito, triggermen for scores of the gang's murders, posed challenges that would test the unit's very survival. But HIU's dedicated collaboration of prosecutors and detectives and the strategies Arsenault employed in the unit's investigation have since become a model for gang enforcement in cities around the world. In the end, the Wild Cowboys and their allies were responsible for more than sixty murders.  A rich roller-coaster ride of a narrative with a colorful and, at times, heroic cast of characters, Gangbusters is true crime at its page-turning best.

Author Notes

Michael Stone is a veteran journalist who covered the New York scene for New York magazine for more than a decade

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stone, a contributor to New York magazine, offers an efficient, intimate look back at the urban crack wars, recounting the bloody reign and difficult takedown of a vicious Dominican drug gang operating in upper Manhattan and the Bronx. He realistically evokes a time when NYC homicide investigators were swamped with murder cases. To target gang leaders, rather than making street-level arrests (which created good statistics but had little lasting effect on crime), Manhattan's Homicide Investigation Unit was formed. The unit became aware of "Lenny's Boys" (a gang also known as the Wild Cowboys or Red-Top) committing such atrocities as the machine-gunning of a suburban kid driving on the West Side Highway and the brutal killing of four customers and dealers at a rival crack spot. The investigation, which Stone traces in detail (he was given special access to the HIU), took years, revealing a battered urban neighborhood enslaved by arrogant, trigger-happy dealers who had created byzantine gang structures and assembly-line distribution methods meant to foil efforts at prosecution. Ultimately, however, eight defendants received lengthy sentences; many collaborators (including the gang's leaders, Lenny and Nelson Sepulveda) testified for plea bargains. Stone has a good grasp of the urban milieu and he captures the human qualities of dedicated cops as well as remorseless thugs. Robert Jackall's 1997 Wild Cowboys offers a more thoughtful if scholarly take than does Stone's account, with its movie-ready excitement and fuller character portraits. But overall, Stone presents a solid retelling of a frightening, significant era in New York's recent history. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This is an intense, dizzying depiction of the brutality of drug gangs and the relentless efforts of New York's Homicide Investigations Unit (HIU) to combat them. The HIU, which comprises both prosecutors and detectives, was organized specifically to put gangs out of business. The unit spent many long and exhausting years trying to bust the "Wild Cowboys," the city's "most dangerous gang"Da case it ultimately won. Journalist Stone (New York magazine) details many of the political and personnel strains the unit faced as a result of the arduous investigation, occasionally reporting too many of these real-life heroes' flaws. The author's journalist roots are evident in his strong writing, but the book too often reads like a series of articles. Stone likes to foreshadow events but often does so frustratingly early. The story is complex and covers so many people that it is difficult to follow at times, though the published book will have a list of characters, which should help. Not for the squeamish; the graphic and senseless homicides depicted are so many that the reader quickly becomes inured to the violence. Recommended for true-crime collections.DKaren Sandlin Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 Death on the Highwayp. 1
2 The Homicide Investigation Unitp. 20
3 The Wild Cowboysp. 44
4 The Search for Platanop. 71
5 Joining Forcesp. 79
6 Warp. 92
7 Catching a Breakp. 108
8 Bumps in the Roadp. 118
9 Lennyp. 130
10 Point, Counterpointp. 147
11 Losing Groundp. 159
12 The Informerp. 171
13 Collaredp. 188
14 Dissensionp. 201
15 The Blowupp. 212
16 Takedownp. 225
17 Back on Trackp. 236
18 Breakthroughp. 249
19 The Trial Beginsp. 266
20 The Turning Pointp. 283
21 Verdictp. 304
Epiloguep. 321