Police dethroned six alleged members of the Latin Kings gang in south Queens this week as a result of a three-month undercover investigation into drug and gun deals in the area, prosecutors announced on Friday.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the probe culminated on the morning of July 18, when police officers raided the home of David Golden, 21, who was with four alleged associates at the time: Jesus Merced, 23, of Hempstead, NY, and Ozone Park’s Janet Rodriguez, 30, Alberto Santiago, 21 and Malik Santiago, 16. During the court-authorized search, police found a defaced .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol, $1,250 in cash, various quantities of marijuana, cocaine and heroin, and drug paraphernalia.
Law enforcement sources identified Golden as the alleged ringleader of the gun and drug sale operation that involved members of what’s called the Woodhaven Mayans, a subset of the Latin Kings. Between April 11 and June 22 of this year, authorities said, Golden made repeated contacts with an undercover officer posing as a buyer and sold the agent various narcotics and weapons.
“These arrests should serve as a warning to other drug dealers and gang members that the law enforcement community will continue to aggressively track down those who traffic in drugs and illegal firearms and seek to put them in prison,” Brown said in a statement on July 21.
Prosecutors said the investigation came about through the joint efforts of the NYPD Queens Gang Unit and the DA’s Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau. The undercover officer allegedly engaged in 13 different heroin, cocaine and prescription drug purchases involving Golden or one of his associates — including Travis Gonzalez, 16, and Edgardo Torres, 17, both Queens residents — over the three-month period.
On May 13, law enforcement sources noted, Golden allegedly contacted the undercover officer and asked if he was interested in purchasing firearms, which the suspect called “toys.” He informed the officer that he was awaiting a shipment of guns from out of state, with the firearms going for between $600 and $800.
Twelve days later, on May 25, Golden allegedly met with the undercover officer and provided him with 24 grams of a substance believed to be cocaine in exchange for $1,300. Prosecutors said that Golden then made a phone call and told the officer that the gun shipment arrived, and that someone was bringing it on a bicycle.
Moments later, according to the charges, Gonzalez arrived on the scene and handed the undercover officer a black bag containing a small case which included a .38-caliber revolver with five rounds in the cylinder.
Authorities said that the undercover agent then met with Torres on June 22 paid $500 for what he was told would be 100 glassine envelopes of heroin. However, prosecutors said, the envelopes did not contain the narcotic.
On July 17, the day before the raid, police spotted Golden leaving his Liberty Avenue residence and meeting with Walter Ramos, 36, who provided him cash in exchange for marijuana and a bag containing multicolored pills. Police later arrested Ramos and recovered the pot as well as the pills, which were Endocet (a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen), alprazolam (Xanax) and oxycodone pills.
Each of the suspects were variously charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal sale of a firearm and unlawful possession of a weapon. Golden faces up to 8 1/3 to 25 years behind bars if convicted.