Many Pinched In 15-Month NYPD Probe
Scores of individuals have been arrested on drug, weapons and other charges as part of a large-scale investigation focused on the illegal activities of two alleged drug organizations operating in southeast Queens, it was announced last Thursday, May 17.
Reportedly, the two organizations were allegedly being run by a set of the Bloods street gang known as the “South Side Bloods” and by James “Wall” Corley, 51, of 133rd Avenue in South Jamaica, an original member of the Queens Supreme Team, a violent narcotics gang that flourished during the height of New York City’s crack epidemic in the 1980s.
It is alleged that the two gangs grossed more than $15,000 per week by distributing narcotics to numerous street dealers who, in turn, sold the narcotics to customers. In total, 45 individuals have been arrested, including 19 customers.
The charges were announced last Thursday by Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly at a press conference at One Police Plaza in Manhattan.
“The onset of the crack epidemic in the 1980s gave rise to a number of violent, gun-toting narcotics gangs which plagued many of the city’s neighborhoods-especially here in Queens, which was at the epicenter of the crack epidemic,” Brown said. “Despite the fact that police and prosecutors successfully dismantled the gangs and sent their leaders away to prison for long periods of time, it is alleged that Corley returned to his roots to sell crack and cocaine in and around the same housing project his crew held hostage years ago. What he failed to realize, however, was that the city had changed for the better and would not be dragged back to the bad old days.”
“These arrests – and the seizure of drugs, guns and other contraband resulting from this investigation- should serve as a warning to both drug dealers and violent criminals alike that the law enforcement community- in spite of the city’s economic difficulties-will continue to aggressively track down those individuals who traffic in drugs and seek to put them in prison,” he added.
“This investigation resulted in dozens of arrests, including that of James “Wall” Corley, one of the principal suppliers of cocaine throughout Queens South,” Kelly said. “Corley began his drug career as an associate of “the supreme team” during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, and associated with the felons who sanctioned the execution of New York City P.O. Edward Byrne in 1988. While Corley was not charged in the murder of Eddie Byrne, generations of Police Officers will take no small satisfaction in the fact that an associate of his killers has been brought to justice.”
Since February 2011, according to the charges, the NYPD’s Queens Gang Squad and his Narcotics Investigations Bureau have been investigating two separate organizations allegedly supplying narcotics in Southeast Queens.
Through traditional investigative means such as physical surveillance and search warrants, coupled with court-authorized electronic surveillance, authorities allegedly developed information that the first group, the Corley Crew, allegedly led by Corley, supplied customers in the South Jamaica Houses, the Baisley Houses, Rochdale Village and other areas in Jamaica, while the second group, the South Side Bloods, supplied customers in Baisley Gardens and other parts of Jamaica.
In addition to the arrests, officers executed 14 court-authorized search warrants and allegedly seized approximately one and one-half kilograms of cocaine, over 50 decks of heroin, a quantity of marijuana, approximately $70,000 in alleged narcotic proceeds, numerous cell phones and four handguns and a 9mm Intratec submachine gun.
Corley, who was charged on May 10 with three narcotics sales and other related charges. In executing a search warrant at Corley’s residence in Rochdale Village, police allegedly recovered a quantity of cocaine, ten vials of Lidocaine (commonly added to cocaine as a diluent), forty-five forged $5 bills and various narcotics paraphernalia.
In addition to Corley, various top members of his alleged narcotics organization were also arrested on May 10. Among them were Nathan Braithwaite, 47, of Unionhall Street in Jamaica and Troy Walker, 44, of 159th Street in Jamaica. In executing search warrants at their residences, police allegedly recovered 27 forged $20 bills, 28 forged $5 bills, a quantity of cocaine and various narcotics paraphernalia from Braithwaite’s residence and cocaine and heroin from Walker’s residence.
Two days earlier, a search warrant was executed at the Rosedale residence of Nicole Turner, 41, of 145th Avenue, who allegedly maintained a narcotics stash-house for the narcotics suppliers of this organization. Among the items allegedly recovered was approximately 231 grams of cocaine (over eight ounces), six kilo presses, three digital scales and narcotics packaging materials.
Earlier in the year, Gregory Avery, 41, of Horace Harding Expressway in Corona-an alleged associate of Corley- was apprehended on Feb. 16 at the Crown Motor Inn in Woodside after he allegedly sold cocaine to two narcotics customers.
Additionally, through the use of court-authorized eavesdropping warrants, it was learned that Kyle Milburn, 38, of West 141st Street in Manhattan- one of Corley’s alleged suppliers- allegedly sold approximately 494 grams of cocaine to Kenneth Whitehead, 44, of Underhill Avenue in the Bronx, who is alleged to be a narcotics dealer.
Thereafter, Milburn and one of his alleged workers-Ryan Pelt, 40, of 158th Avenue in Jamaica-were arrested in possession of the cocaine. Pursuant to the execution of a search warrant, approximately $65,000 in alleged drug proceeds were recovered from a safety deposit box allegedly used by Whitehead.
It is further alleged that, along with Corley’s organization, the South Side Bloods also supplied narcotics throughout Jamaica. Electronic surveillance allegedly revealed that gang members passed around a “work telephone,” to ensure that they would be available 24 hours a day for their customers.
In January, two alleged leaders of the South Side Bloods-Craig Scott, 34, of Doormans Road in St. Albans and Steven Houston, 30, of 150th Street in Jamaica-and two others were arrested for third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and other related charges.
Also arrested in January 2012, was Allen Mitchell, 33, of 106th Avenue in South Jamaica, an alleged supplier to the gang, for second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. In executing search warrants that month, police allegedly recovered cocaine from Mitchell’s residence, an inoperable sawed-off shotgun from Houston’s residence, and cocaine from the residence of alleged worker Shawn Inman, 25, of Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica.
A month earlier, a search warrant executed at the 166th Street residence of alleged gang member Tamar Loper, 35, of Jamaica, allegedly resulted in the recovery of two loaded firearms-a .357 Taurus and a .32 caliber firearm-and hundreds of rounds of ammunition despite Tamar allegedly attempting to discard the evidence by throwing the firearms onto his roof.
On Mar. 21, alleged gang member Donald Merritt, 24, of 190th Avenue in Jamaica was arrested for possessing a Tech 9 handgun and 50 9mm bullets.
Each of the defendants are variously charged with the crimes of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, a class A-I felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison; criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, which is a class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison; criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, a class A-II felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison; criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, both class B felonies, each punishable by up to nine years in prison; and criminal sale of marijuana in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
Additional suspects identified as narcotics suppliers, dealers and workers who were charged in the investigation are the following:
– Vivica Allen, 51, of 159th Street in Jamaica, who was arrested on Mar. 15 for allegedly acting as a narcotics worker;
– Darren Andrews, 47, of Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, arrested on Jan. 26 as an alleged narcotics supplier;
– Marc Carmon, 40, of 166th Street in Jamaica, arrested on Dec. 1, 2011 as an alleged narcotics dealer;
– Antoine Carroll, 33, of Third Avenue in Brooklyn, arrested on Apr. 23 as an alleged Bloods member and a narcotics dealer;
– Deval Cobb, 42, of Garden Wood Terrace in Richmond, Va., arrested on Jan. 31 as an alleged narcotics customer and worker for the Corley organization;
– Anthony Davis, 30, of 225th Street in Springfield Gardens, arrested on Sept. 22, 2011 after being allegedly found in possession of marijuana following the execution of a search warrant at his residence, in which there was a four-year-old child;
– David Driggins, 45, of Ludwig Lane in Staten Island, arrested on Apr. 25 as an alleged narcotics associate of Milburn;
– Travis Forbes, 36, of Gipson Street in Far Rockaway, arrested on Apr. 24 as an alleged Bloods member;
– Leonard Gibson, 35, of Paerdegat 10th Street in Brooklyn, arrested on Oct. 4 as an alleged Bloods member;
– Joshua Paige, 42, of Astoria Boulevard in Astoria, arrested on May 16 as an alleged narcotics associate of Corley;
– Michael Stephens, 59, of 185th Street in Hollis, arrested on Mar. 26 as an alleged narcotics associate of Corley; and
– Brian Wright, 26, of Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, arrested on Oct. 3, 2011 as an alleged narcotic worker and customer.
Nineteen alleged narcotics customers were also arrested in connection with the case:
– Craig Belcher, 47, of Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, arrested on July 7, 2011;
– Valeria Brown, 51, of North Conduit Avenue in Jamaica, arrested on Nov. 2, 2011;
– Dwayne Calinda, 27, of 160th Street in Jamaica, arrested on Nov. 22, 2011;
– Roderick Cook, 28, of 155th Street in Jamaica, arrested on Oct. 24;
– Jerry Currin, 55, of 121st Avenue in Jamaica, arrested on Apr. 23;
– Bradley Denize, 47, of 113th Avenue in Queens Village, arrested on Nov. 27, 2011;
– Peter Dimitroff, 65, of Alderton Street in Rego Park, arrested on Dec. 12, 2011;
– Wilson Dobie, 47, of 147th Street in Jamaica, arrested on Aug. 10, 2011;
– Lawrence Hampton, 44, of Liverpool Street in Jamaica, arrested on Mar. 26;
– Charles Henley, 29, of 224th Street in Queens Village, arrested on Oct. 4, 2011;
– William Lewis, 50, of 118th Avenue in St. Albans, arrested on Dec. 11, 2011;
– Michael McBean, 51, of Glassboro Avenue in Jamaica, arrested on June 20, 2011;
– Michael McAuley, 39, of 141st Avenue in Rosedale, arrested on June 6, 2011;
– Aisha and Stevie McGibbon, both 27 and residents of Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, arrested on Aug. 11;
– Zhora Musheyev, 35, of 63rd Drive in Forest Hills, arrested on Feb. 15;
– Tiffany Powers, 31, of Kissena Boulevard in Flushing, arrested on Dec. 1, 2011;
– Sanjay Sirgu, 25, of Autumn Avenue in Brooklyn, arrested on Nov. 9, 2011; and
– Artyom Yagudayev, 35, of South Ulster Street in Denver, Colo., arrested on Feb. 15.
The investigation was conducted by Det. David Leonardi, of the NYPD Queens Gang Division, under the supervision of Sgt. Craig Bier, Lt. Nicholas Ferraro and Capt. James Ryan, commanding officer of Queens Gang Division, and under the overall supervision of Deputy Chief Theresa Shortell, commanding officer of the Gang Division, and Chief Anthony Izzo, commanding officer of the Organized Crime Control Bureau.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Julie S. Trivedi of the District Attorney’s Narcotics Investigation Bureau is prosecuting the cases under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Wilbert J. LeMelle, bureau chief, Karen J. Friedman, deputy bureau chief, and Philip Anderson, supervisor, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigation Linda M. Cantoni
It was noted that criminal complaints are merely accusations and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.