Undercover operation busts Jackson Heights-based drug gang: DA

Undercover operation busts Jackson Heights-based drug gang: DA
By Bill Parry

The NYPD smashed a Jackson Heights-based drug gang following a long-term investigation last week. Police arrested 18 people during an early morning raid May 23, seizing cocaine, heroin, loaded guns, a machete, five vehicles and $80,000 in cash, according to the Queens DA.

Nine suspected members of the 97th Street Trinitarios and #Hot97Boyz street gangs were facing multiple counts of drugs and weapons charges following the investigation, which had undercover police successfully purchasing firearms and illicit drugs, including cocaine and heroin laced with Fentanyl, from the defendants between August 2016 and May 2018, the DA said.

“These arrests should serve as a warning to drug dealers and gang members who operate in New York City that law enforcement is coming for you,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “We will continue to aggressively track down those who flood our community with illegal drugs and guns and put them behind bars.”

Brown identified the main defendants as Oscar “Diddy” Urena, 35, of Jackson Heights; Jesus “Junior” Mota, 34, of College Point; and Dionis “Moz” Fernandez, 23, of Whitestone. Additionally, Joseph “Jay” Payamps, 23, of Corona, was arrested following a court-ordered search of his residence where police allegedly seized $62,337 in cash and 240 grams of cocaine along with scales, packaging and kilo presses, according to Brown.

The defendants were arraigned with 14 others in Queens Criminal Court on various complaints charging them with criminal possession of controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon and other alleged crimes. According to the charges, the alleged gang members operated primarily in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona. Utilizing court-authorized wire taps, investigators were able to eavesdrop on telephone conversations between several of the defendants.

On June 20, 2017, investigators tapped a call between Urena and another man who said, “I want a hard one and two rices,” to which Urena said, “OK, two and one,” and a few minutes later the two were observed making a hand-to-hand exchange. Detectives seized a plastic bag containing a rock of crack cocaine and two bags of powder cocaine.

A detective also managed to buy an illegal gun from Urena on April 28, 2017, the DA said. The detective met with Urena and bought a black Jimenez Arms semi-automatic firearm and 11 rounds of ammunition for $940, and a bag of marijuana. Brown said there were many incidents where undercover detectives made similar purchases from defendants such as Fernandez and Mota.

Urena, Payamps and Fernandez face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Mota faces 14 years. The NYPD released the names of the other 10 defendants, including Leslie Julbe, 39, of College Point; Daniel D. Cepeda, 19, of Jackson Heights; Raymond “Delivery” Ferreira, 19, of College Point; Abel “Flaco” Diaz, 27, of Corona; Jacinto Cabral, 41, of Corona; Rafael Castillo, 50, of East Elmhurst, Damaris Castillio, 42, of East Elmhurst; Daniella Zamoria, 24, of Whitestone; Eva Ferreira, 26, of College Point and Randy Fernandez, 24, of East Elmhurst.

Eight other individuals have been arrested and charged in connection with the investigation, according to the Queens DA’s office.

“Each day our efforts to rid New York City streets of illegal narcotics and associated gang and crew violence are made stronger and more precise through our law enforcement partnerships,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “I commend everyone involved in this long-term case, particularly the NYPD detectives who put themselves directly in harm’s way. Our nation’s best investigators will continue to focus intently on anyone who chooses to engage in this illicit behavior.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.