Hammels Houses Made Safe for School Kids
(New York) Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride, of the New York Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced the indictment of 31 individuals and the filing of criminal charges against 11 others on drug-related charges as a result of a four-month undercover investigation at the Hammels Houses, a New York City Housing Authority complex in Far Rockaway, Queens on Friday, February 2, 2007. The defendants – who range in age from 15 to 62 and include five alleged Bloods gang members and nine GIB (acronym for “Get It In Bricks”) gang members – are charged with selling crack and powdered cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and marijuana to undercover police officers on more than 140 separate occasions over a four-month period in and around the Hammels Houses. Sixteen of the defendants are charged with at least one count of selling drugs within a drug-free school zone. Several of the indicted individuals are presently being sought.
DEA Special Agent-in-charge Gilbride said, “Collectively, with our law enforcement partners, we identified, investigated and arrested dozens of individuals who were littering the Hammels Houses projects with crack, heroin and marijuana. This investigation resulted in eradicating the drugs and violence that were pervading this community and making this neighborhood a safe drug free zone.”
Queens District Attorney Brown said, “The result of this joint investigation should bring welcome relief to the many residents of the Hammels Houses and adjoining communities of Rockaway, who have been plagued by illegal drug trafficking in the lobbies and surrounding streets of their homes. Many of those charged are alleged to have gang affiliations and have been part of open-air and inside-the-lobby drug markets believed responsible for a number of recent narcotics-related shootings and murders in the area. All are alleged to have mistakenly thought that they were operating under wraps when they sold their illicit drugs to undercover officers close to their own homes or near schools. In fact, they were under investigation and marked for arrest, prosecution and long prison sentences.”
The investigation began in October 2006 following a series of meetings between residents of the Hammels Houses and the District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD, In response, police officers from the NYPD’s Queens Narcotics Division, supported by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, were able to make a number of undercover narcotics buys and to conduct extensive physical surveillance which enabled District Attorney Brown’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau to obtain court authorization for six search warrants of known drug trafficking and stash locations. The undercover officers are alleged to have made 147 separate purchases of crack and powdered cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and marijuana from the defendants – many of which were made in close proximity to private and public school facilities – St. Rose of Lima, on Beach 84th Street, Christian Academy, on Beach 86th Street, and Hammels Child Care Center, on Rockaway Beach Boulevard – which adjoin the development.
In addition to the arrests this week, officers executed seven court-authorized search warrants and recovered two loaded semi-automatic pistols, ammunition and a bullet proof vest, as well additional quantities of crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana. District Attorney Brown continued, “These arrests clearly underscore law enforcement’s collective commitment to ridding the streets of illegal drug gang activity and the violence that surrounds it and have struck a significant blow to the gang known as GIB, which has been in operation since 2005. Using strict and violent discipline they successfully ruled the crack cocaine trade in the Hammels Houses. Attempts by rival drug dealers to operate within their territory were often met with brutality and gunfire, endangering residents and visitors alike.”
The Hammels Houses are part of the New York City Housing Authority’s network of housing developments and consist of fourteen buildings, six- and seven-stories tall, in which nearly 2,000 people reside in 712 apartments. The nearly fifteen-acre complex was completed in 1955 and is bordered on the east and west by Beach 81st and Beach 86th Streets and Hammels and Rockaway Beach Boulevards on the north and south. It is among the older public housing developments in New York City.
The defendants are variously charged with numerous counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance In or Near School Grounds, both Class B felonies, each punishable by up to nine years in prison, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree, a Class C felony punishable by up to five and a half years in prison, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree, a Class D felony punishable by up to two and a half years in prison, and Criminal Sale of Marihuana in the Fourth Degree and Petit Larceny, both Class A misdemeanors, each punishable by up to one year in jail.
The investigation and arrests were carried out by the DEA’s New York Field Division, Detectives of the New York City Police Departments Queens Narcotics Division and the Queens County District Attorneys Office’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau.
Assistant District Attorneys Nicole Sharples and David Chiang of District Attorney Brown's Narcotics Investigations Bureau are prosecuting the cases under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Wilbert J. LeMelle, Chief, Karen J. Friedman, Deputy Chief, and Mark L. Katz, Supervisor, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.
It should be noted that indictments and criminal complaints are merely accusations and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
CRIMINAL COURT COMPLAINTS