Home SHOWS Brooklyn residents fuming over migrants’ ‘lawlessness’

Brooklyn residents fuming over migrants’ ‘lawlessness’

by Ohio Digital News

It’s been a rude awakening for the bedroom communities near Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, ever since 2,000 migrants were moved there.

Since mid-November, new lawlessness has plagued the area, with shoplifting, panhandling, gutter scams, and, according to some, signs of street prostitution.

And the once-serene, federally-run site — a historic former airfield off Flatbush Avenue near the Marine Parkway Bridge — has itself become an eyesore, where vicious brawls and pot-puffing are common, those living there said.

“This sh-t is out of control,” said a 20-year veteran NYPD cop when asked about the migrants at Floyd Bennett Field, a fraction of the 164,000 illegal border crossers bused to New York since August — and 68,000 currently in the city’s care.

“That’s all these people do is rob and steal. They should feel lucky that they’re here, but they’re out there committing crimes. We don’t know anything about them. We don’t know what they’ve done in these other countries.”

Neighborhoods near Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field got a taste of real-world problems facing the Big Apple after the site in mid-November began housing nearly 2,000 migrants. Aristide Economopoulos
Floyd Bennett Field, a historic former airfield, has devolved into an eyesore since the city set up a controversial tent complex there. Paul Martinka


Along Flatbush Avenue and other bustling thoroughfares near Kings Plaza, some migrants are trying to clean up by playing dirty in traffic, residents said.

The scam, they said, plays out this way: someone runs into traffic when it slows for a red light, bumps into the side of a moving vehicle, and pretends to get hurt — then tries to extort $500 in hush money from the driver.

“They’re scaring people saying, ‘You just hit me, and I’m going to report it if you don’t give me the money,’” said John B., a retired NYPD cop from Bergen Beach.

Sal Calise, president of the Bergen Beach Civic Association, said he nearly was a victim of the scheme while driving on Jan. 6 along Avenue T near Flatbush Avenue.

Over 164,000 illegal border crossers have been bussed to New York since August and 68,000 are currently in the city’s care. Aristide Economopoulos

He said a man he believed was a migrant walked into oncoming traffic, causing him to swerve his 2023 Kia Forte and nearly hit a parked car to avoid running over the man.

“I looked back in my rear-view mirror, and he’s turning around laughing at the migrants sitting on the corner,” he said. 

“The [migrant] guys on the corner, they had all their phones in their hands like they’re ready to film,” he added. “I thought, ‘This obviously is a setup.’”

John B. and Calise said details of the apparent extortion scheme were discussed by concerned residents and 63rd Precinct cops Tuesday during an association meeting.

Cops are aware of the scam, but have no formal complaints to act upon, law enforcement sources said.

Vicious brawls illegal cigarette smoking and pot puffing are now commonplace at Floyd Bennett Field. Helayne Seidman

Meanwhile, fights amongst migrants at Floyd Bennett Field have become routine — as have arrests.

NYPD records obtained by The Post show there have been at least five migrants arrested at the makeshift center since its opening, including four cases last month :

  • Josue Parica Villanueba, 25, formerly of Venezuela, was busted on Dec. 20 for allegedly choking and beating his girlfriend. Villanueba –who also goes by Jefferson Parica – allegedly snatched keys out of her hand, “pushed her against a crib and started choking her and then he put his feet on her face,” a police report says. Cops slapped the man with harassment and criminal-obstruction-of-breathing charges. He pleaded not guilty.
  • Katty Nelastegu-Ruiz, 30, formerly of Ecuador, was socked with menacing, assault, weapons-possession, and endangering children charges on Dec. 26 after allegedly attacking and scratching a man’s chest and then wielding a “small kitchen knife” in front of her children. She pleaded not guilty.
  • Nakari Landaeta, a 30-year woman also from Venezuela, was charged with assault on Dec. 10 after allegedly striking a man with a “slipper.” She pleaded not guilty.
  • Antonio Ramirez, a 28-year-old Venezuelan native, was charged with assault on Dec. 10 for allegedly socking his father in the nose. He pleaded not guilty.

“It’s a small space with a lot of people in it, so people argue like this, and they fight about things like food and clothes,” said a 36-year-old Ecuadorian staying at the tent center with her three children. “They also get mad about other people being too loud, not watching their kids.

“I’ve seen women get into fights about clothes. They pull each other’s hair.”

Local residents claim some migrants are pretending to get seriously hurt by moving vehicles so they can extort hush money from drivers. Helayne Seidman

The city-run tent city routinely reeks of pot as many migrants snub “No Smoking Signs” and puff joints – which is illegal because Floyd Bennett Field is federal parkland. A Post reporter also witnessed migrants smoking blunts.

“People smoke all the time here,” said Edison Sanchez, a 37-year-old Ecuadorian. “I don’t, but I see people smoking weed. And the bathrooms smell because they’re always in there smoking.”

A rep for Arrow Security, who provides security at the site, declined comment.


At Target in nearby Kings Plaza, one security guard estimated up to 10 migrants a day swipe bread, rice, and other groceries – including some who use kids to distract staffers while stuffing goods into their pockets.

“Thieves will walk in an aisle where there’s not a lot of cameras to conceal [the pilfered items] and put it in their jacket and walk out,” said the guard, adding, “it’s always a family, a single mother with her kid who has a toy … I feel sympathy but that could be [a distraction tactic]”

He admitted routinely looking the other way.

Migrants are shoplifting hundreds of dollars in food products from Target, according to security guards. Aristide Economopoulos

“I let them take the food,” he said while acknowledging the thefts likely cost Target at minimum hundreds of dollars daily. “I have a nice heart.”

Tay Ross, another Target security guard, recalled a migrant woman twice attempting to use an old receipt to walk out with $700 worth of ribs, ground beef, and other meat. Authorities were not notified.

“They’re quick to give up the items,” Ross, 23, said. “I think people realize there’s no sense in going to jail. If they’re trying to feed themselves, it doesn’t bother me.”

At the clothing store Primark in Kings Plaza, a manager there said the shop has seen a significant spike in “family style” migrant shoplifting where parents and children scheme to steal socks, coats, underwear, and other “necessities.”

“They’ve had to resort to kids hiding the items in their clothes, the kids walking out, and [the parents] following behind,” she said.

Primark security guard Arturo Anyson, 35, vented over the fact that migrants are shoplifting despite receiving financial support from city, state, and federal agencies.

New York State is paying $1.7 million a month for the city to operate the tent shelter, while the Big Apple is on the hook for $625,000 for busing migrant students away from the transportation desert for school this academic year.

“The fact that our tax money is gradually being given to them and they choose to steal? It’s no surprise,” he said. 


Some residents claim a vacant lot formerly occupied by Toys R Us is being used by migrant women in their 20s who try peddling both flowers and their flesh.

One man alleged a woman came up to him while driving and asked him to go over with her a secluded area for potentially a good time. He said he declined.

NYPD records from Nov. 27 through Jan. 7 show upticks in car thefts (37.5%), robberies (29.4%), and petit larceny (8.2%) in the 63rd Precinct, which covers the neighborhoods near Floyd Bennett Field, compared to the same period a year earlier.

According to some residents, signs of street prostitution have accompanied the migrants’ arrival at Floyd Bennett Field. Helayne Seidman

Overall major crimes in the precinct are down 5.3%.

But people who live and work in the neighborhood say many migrant crimes go unreported by sympathetic New Yorkers.

“We could do more for them. I care about people, regardless of where they’re from,” said Target security guard Terrance Sellers. “As long as they’re not harming people, I don’t care.”


Inside the tents, migrant families are being jammed into cubicles, where cots are spread out in single rows and spaced less than two feet apart. The crowded quarters have allowed a nauseating mix of illnesses to circulate constantly, shelter residents griped. 

Shelter residents griped that crowded living quarters at Floyd Bennett Field have allowed illnesses to circulate constantly. Aristide Economopoulos

“People are always sick here, especially the kids, because there are too many people in small rooms, all enclosed here,” a 36-year-old Ecuadorian woman said, adding she had difficulty recovering from the flu because she couldn’t get any medical assistance from shelter staff

“People go to work, the kids go to school, and they bring [viruses] back here and they spread. They’re coughing, vomiting.”

Neighbors were spooked this week by a false rumor that the shelter was the site of a tuberculosis outbreak, with word spreading that migrants were being treated at a Coney Island hospital for the infectious disease.

NYC Health+Hospitals spokesman Adam Shrier said there’s currently are no active TB cases at the Coney Island medical facility. “Any rumors of an outbreak are unfounded,” he said, adding that asylum seekers being treated there were routinely tested for non-infectious tuberculosis and other medical conditions.  


In Marine Park and other neighborhoods near the Kings Plaza, migrants routinely knock on front doors and beg for food, clothing, and cash.

“Panhandling is out of control,” said one retired cop. “People are ringing bells all hours; they hold up a phone with a translation asking for money.

Ivy Ostrander, 17, said that migrants are being given opportunities by the government but are wasting them. Aristide Economopoulos

“They go into stores asking for food. It is sad, you see people with their kids, and they don’t have the proper clothes, the kids are freezing. The city isn’t really helping the migrants and the people who live here are not happy.”

Many residents are tired of the panhandling.

“They have clothes; they have food, so why are you knocking on people’s doors? Why are you begging?” said Ivy Ostrander, 17, a hostess at the Floridian Plaza Diner on Flatbush Avenue and a student at Edward R. Murrow High School. “[The government is] giving them opportunities and they’re not taking them.” 

She said that she’s seen many migrant moms risk their lives — and those of their children — begging on Flatbush Avenue, a major thoroughfare. 

“They go in the street with babies on their bodies and they’ll walk back and forth, and they’ll beg as the cars are coming,” she said.

Speedway clerk Michael Voccio griped that migrants panhandling outside the gas station are making more than his daily pay. Aristide Economopoulos

Michael Voccio, 34, a clerk at the Speedway gas station on Flatbush Avenue and Avenue T, estimated migrants begging at the station’s parking lot each clear roughly $150 a day – and some have persuaded customers to take them on shopping sprees. 

“They make more money than I do, and I’m working and paying taxes,” he said.

Voccio also said migrants even turned down work from one customer, who offered them an $85-per-day laborer rate. “The migrant said, ‘No I make more begging,’” he said.

Some migrants have also scored better rides than many Brooklyn families they’ve been hitting up for cash, food, and clothes.

Migrants have also scored better rides than many Brooklyn families they’ve been hitting up for cash and food. Helayne Seidman

Authorities on Jan. 6 towed at least five unregistered vehicles apparently being used by migrants that were illegally parked outside the controversial tent shelter – including a Toyota Sienna with Florida dealership plates.

Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, who represents parts of southeast Brooklyn, called on the city to shut down the migrant center immediately – or at least impose a curfew on its temporary residents.

“The city is taking a blind eye to all their actions,” said Williams. “Every time we talk about the issues, it’s always excuses. But at the end of the day, the residents [in nearby neighborhoods] are the ones who are the benefactors of lawlessness.”

The NYPD and Mayor Eric Adams’ office did not return messages.

Additional reporting by Tina Moore, Larry Celona, and Susan Edelman.

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