After a 14-month probe, law enforcement agents busted up a large-scale cocaine and marijuana peddling ring in Queens, leading to the arrest of 10 individuals on related charges, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Each defendant was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, with some charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
The following men, eight of whom reside in Queens, were arraigned in connection with the case, as announced by acting District Attorney John Ryan:
- Hermes Bermudez, 40, of Rego Park
- Marcus Thomas, 41, of Queens Village
- Cashuwell Bradley, 30, of Queens Village
- Abraham Aessa, 38, of Queens Village
- Sergio Pettiford, 36, of Queens Village
- Joseph Husbands, 64, of Jamaica
- Gary Harris, 54, of Jamaica
- Jonathan Francis, 36, of Queens Village
- Earnest Charles Jr., 44, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn
A tenth defendant, 38-year-old Noel Mackenson of Queens Village, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a control substance on March 20.
As part of the probe, law enforcement agents executed search warrants at 12 residences in Queens and Brooklyn and recovered five firearms, more than 400 grams of cocaine, more than 11 pounds of marijuana and approximately $264,000 in cash.
“A morning wake-up call by the police resulted in the seizure of both drugs and illegal firearms and the arrest of 10 individuals bent on profiting by allegedly selling poison on our neighborhood streets,” said Ryan. “The drug ring is alleged to have operated in Queens County and elsewhere distributing both cocaine and marijuana. Thanks to the hard work of the NYPD’s Narcotics Bureau Queens South and our office’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau. The defendants now face prison time for their alleged actions.”
According to charges, the NYPD’s Narcotics Borough Queens South and the Queens District Attorney’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau began investigating a crew of alleged drug dealers in January of 2018. Throughout the course of their investigation, which utilized techniques such as intercepting telephone calls, GPS location monitoring and surveillance, police arrested Aessa, Pettiford, Husbands, Harris, Mackenson and Francis. Charles, Bermudez, Bradley and Thomas were arraigned on March 21.
The criminal complaint states that each defendant possessed and sold narcotics in Queens County. Using a court-authorized eavesdropping warrant, police overheard the defendants discuss buying drugs, distributing narcotics and advancing the organization in an effort to make more money.
“In working to reduce crime past already record-lows in New York City, the NYPD is relentless in our pursuit of the relatively small percentage of the population driving the violence and disorder,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “We are achieving this because of the full and willing partnership of New Yorkers in every neighborhood and the unrivaled assistance of our law-enforcement partners. I commend the Queens District Attorney and the investigators whose efforts resulted in these arrests.”
Each defendant is being held on bail ranging from $25,000 to $150,000, with Harris being released on his own recognizance.
If convicted, the defendants face between one and 15 years in prison.