By Bill Parry
A yearlong anti-drug investigation at the Astoria Houses culminated with the arrests of a dozen suspected drug peddlers, Queens DA Richard Brown announced Friday.
The dirty dozen, including three purported gang members, were charged with selling drugs and weapons to undercover police officers and more arrests are expected as part of the investigation, according to the district attorney.
The drug sweep revealed that the defendants in custody and other individuals allegedly sold heroin, crack, cocaine and other drugs to undercover police officers on nearly 100 separate occasions since September 2015, Brown said. Three of the 12 defendants arrested are also charged with separately selling a firearm to an undercover officer, he said.
“The Astoria Houses takedown is just the latest result of a coordinated law enforcement and prosecutorial anti-drug initiative that began soon after I took office more than 25 years ago,” Brown said. “Since that time, we have targeted hundreds of drug dealers operating in and around public housing developments throughout Queens and have put a significant dent in the drug trafficking which has long troubled the residents of these developments. We will continue to work together with our police officers and our elected officials and community leaders to keep our citizens safe.”
The investigation began last year when detectives assigned to the NYPD’s Queens Narcotics Division teamed up with Brown’s Narcotics Investigation Bureau with the goal of identifying, disrupting and stopping drug dealers and drug-related violence in and around the Astoria Houses at 4-25 Astoria Blvd. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton joined Brown for the announcement Friday.
“Illegal narcotics and firearms serve only to fuel violence,” Bratton said. “The NYPD remains firmly committed to protecting communities such as the Astoria Houses and holding responsible those who engage in drug and gun trafficking.”
Astoria resident Raekwon Ingram, 19, and Maspeth resident Hassan White, 20, are alleged G-Squad members, while Terrence Robinson, 26, is a purported King of Queens gang member, prosecutors said.
The other defendants include Donald Johnson, 35; Kassim Caballero, 46; John Ellerbe, 49; Rick Humphrey, 55; Justin Munoz, 18; Davonta Parham, 24; Paul Robinson, 28; Vianca Thapa, 49; and Michael Wilson, 63, all of Astoria.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr