JAN 11 (MANHATTAN) - Brian R. Crowell, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Raymond W. Kelly, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and Joseph A. D’Amico, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (NYSP), today announced the filing of a Complaint charging 16 alleged members of a Bronx, New York, armed robbery crew who impersonated police officers. The defendants were charged with robbery conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, and firearms offenses.
Guns, tactical vests, police shirts, hydraulic ram, police scanner, handcuffs, zip-ties, bolt-cutters, walkie-talkies, ski masks and GPS units that were found in one of the vehicles stopped.
All 16 of the defendants, who were arrested Wednesday night, were presented yesterday in Manhattan federal court. In connection with the arrests, federal agents seized, among other things, five loaded semi-automatic firearms and a loaded pistol, .45 caliber and .380 caliber ammunition, shirts bearing the word “Police,” tactical gear, and a hydraulic ram similar to those used by law enforcement to break down doors.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, this was a marauding gang of armed and violent thieves in the Bronx who masqueraded as police officers in order to trick their narcotics-dealing targets so they could steal their drugs and their cash. This is the latest in a string of multi-defendant arrests in the Bronx and Manhattan this week that underscore our commitment to making the streets in this district safer for their residents.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell said: “While most New Yorkers were sleeping Wednesday night, our Drug Enforcement Task Force arrested and removed alleged members of an extremely violent, armed and sophisticated drug gang. They were the drug world’s version of a James Bond style robbery crew, utilizing fake police equipment, law enforcement badges, replica vehicles complete with emergency lighting and outfitted with complex traps to hide illegal and loaded firearms. As alleged, this crew was comprised of sixteen members who tried to conceal themselves as cops to rob, steal and plunder. This is yet another investigation epitomizing the extreme violence that surrounds drug trafficking and I commend the men and women of our task force from the NYPD, the NYSP, and the DEA for steadfastly wading into harm’s way to protect our citizens.”
NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “The NYPD and federal partners will continue to crack down on drug dealers and guns in the Bronx and elsewhere, and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau will thoroughly investigate any instances of alleged police impersonation. The impersonators will be pursued and prosecuted.”
NYSP Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said: “The collaborative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Task Force, including the New York State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York City Police Department, have resulted in the arrests of a number of dangerous individuals. We will not tolerate this type of activity in our state. These individuals allegedly masqueraded as police officers with the intent to commit crimes. Ensuring the public’s continued safety is our ultimate goal. By arresting the alleged members of this dangerous drug gang, our streets are now safer.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court: On December 17, 2012, Javion Camacho met with a confidential informant (“CI-1”) working at the direction of the DEA. During that meeting, CI-1 told Javion Camacho that a shipment of heroin was going to be arriving in New York City after the holidays, and that he wanted him to use force to steal the shipment. Camacho told CI-1 he had a robbery crew of police impersonators who would be able to carry out the robbery for him. During subsequent meetings Camacho and his brother Julio Camacho, among others, expressed their interest in robbing the group of drug traffickers and their stash house, which the defendants believed, based on representations made by CI-1, would contain at least 20 kilograms of heroin.
On the evening of January 9, 2013, the defendants – Javion and Julio Camacho, Alex Cespedes, Gary Sanchez, Manuel Pimenteo, Domingo Vasquez, Benjamin Jiminez, Rafael Huerta, Oscar Noriega, Victor Jose Gomez, Joshua Roman, Victor E. Moral, Ramon Jiminez, Ali A. Husain, Louis Borrero, and Oliver F. Flores – assembled at a location in the Bronx, and then traveled in tandem in five different vehicles to a location identified by CI-1 where they planned to use force in order to rob the purported heroin traffickers.
Upon arriving at the specified location, the defendants were placed under arrest and their vehicles were searched. Two of the vehicles contained secret compartments, or “traps,” designed to conceal contraband. One of the vehicles contained a mechanized device that, when operated by the vehicle’s driver, would cover the vehicle’s license plate with a steel plate. The vehicle searches conducted at the time of arrest resulted in the seizure of six loaded firearms, including a .45 caliber High Point, two .380 caliber semi-automatic firearms for which the make has not been identified, a .9 mm Beretta, a .45 caliber Glock, and a silver pistol. The defendants were also found to be in possession of: shirts bearing the word “Police;” tactical vests similar to those used by law enforcement; a hydraulic ram similar to those used by law enforcement to break down doors; a police scanner; handcuffs; zip-ties similar to those used by law enforcement to handcuff individuals; bolt-cutters; walkie-talkies; a purported law enforcement shield; a baseball bat; a crowbar; ski masks; gloves; GPS units similar to those used by law enforcement to track suspects; and a “rabbit pump” which is a tool used by law enforcement to break down doors.
Mr. Bharara praised the DEA, the NYPD, and the NYSP for their work in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Maimin is in charge of the prosecution.The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.