By Howard Koplowitz
More than 50 people, most of them from Far Rockaway, were arrested Friday and charged with a series of crimes, including attempted murder, weapons, drug possession and other charges as part of a large-scale narcotics investigation focused on drug-based violence allegedly committed by the dangerous Gang of Apes street gang, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The Far Rockaway-based gang allegedly grossed more than $10,000 a week through its illegal operations, the DA said.
Gang of Apes, also known as GOA, used to be a set of the Flocc street gang — an alliance consisting of four Crips sets and individual Bloods members and associates — which was dismantled by the NYPD’s Queens Gang Squad and the DA’s office in April 2010, Brown said.
After breaking up the Flocc, the DA’s office and the NYPD turned their attention to GOA, which was seeking to fill the void left by the demise of the Flocc, Brown said.
The 14-month investigation, dubbed “Operation: Zero Tolerance,” consisted of physical surveillance, court-authorized electronic surveillance and search warrants, the DA said.
The probe netted 56 arrests, including 18 GOA members for suspected crimes ranging from attempted murder, weapons and narcotics possession, burglary and robbery, Brown said.
Information from the investigation led to arrests stemming from gang-related shootings and the seizure of 6 kilograms of cocaine, 30 grams of heroin, 12 guns, marijuana, a kilo press, a bulletproof vest and about $35,000 in drug proceeds, the DA said.
There have already been 30 convictions related to the bust with about 40 percent of the defendants being sentenced to “significant periods of incarceration,” Brown said.
“Police and prosecutors have put a virtual stranglehold on this highly unified and criminally active street gang by not only taking down their leaders and other high-ranking members, but their drug suppliers and customers — as well as other non-gang drug traffickers.”
Among the 56 arrested were numerous alleged GOA members, including 23-year-old Kerron “Bones” Dawkins, who was charged with the Nov. 2, 2010, attempted murder of Taurean Ramsey, a 28-year-old suspected member of the rival Outlaw set of the Crips gang.
At around 10:35 a.m. that day, Dawkins allegedly pulled up to the intersection of New Haven Avenue and Beach 22nd Street in Far Rockaway in a black Jeep Cherokee and fired a .22-caliber handgun while leaning out the passenger-side window at Ramsey — who was seated in the driver’s seat of a black Infiniti — striking him twice in the torso and twice in the upper thigh, Brown said.
Also arrested was alleged Bloods member Barkim “Bar” Newson, 23, who was charged with the attempted murder of alleged Gang of Apes leader Barry “Roach” Davis and Steven Albert outside a large party on Beach 21st Street, the DA said.
Davis himself was arrested along with Ruben “Betta” Morales, a purported high-ranking GOA member, for allegedly stabbing Roberto Gonzalez in the back, shoulder and neck Oct. 2, 2010, in what was believed to be a gang-related assault, Brown said.
Davis was also arrested for allegedly participating in a gunpoint home invasion March 11, where a large sum of money, watches, earrings and an Apple iPad were stolen, the DA said.
Suspected Far Rockaway narcotics suppliers Lester Olivencia and Victor Torres were also arrested for allegedly storing cocaine in Torres’ home, Brown said.
During an August 2010 search warrant of the home, police seized two plastic-wrapped blocks of cocaine and 41 Ziploc bags of cocaine, narcotics paraphernalia and about $8,000 in cash, the DA said.
Both men pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance, Brown said, and are serving time in state prison.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.