Three Members Of Bronx Gang Found Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court Of Various Racketeering, Murder, Narcotics, And Firearms Offenses
Fourth Defendant, a Gang Associate, Also Found Guilty of Narcotics Conspiracy
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSHUA MEREGILDO, MELVIN COLON, and EARL PIERCE – members of the Courtlandt Avenue Crew, a violent drug-trafficking organization in the Bronx, New York – were found guilty today in Manhattan federal court of various racketeering, murder, narcotics, and firearms offenses. NOLBERT MIRANDA, a fourth defendant who was an associate of the Courtlandt Avenue Crew, was also found guilty in connection with his participation in the gang’s narcotics conspiracy. The defendants were convicted following a nine-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The Courtlandt Avenue Crew cast a pall over the Bronx neighborhood in which it operated – terrorizing residents with lethal violence and flooding the streets with narcotics. With today’s verdicts, two of its members now stand convicted of murder and a host of other violent and drug-related crimes, and will spend the rest of their lives in prison, and a third faces decades behind bars. While justice was done today, the destruction and despair wrought by gangs goes on and we will continue to bring the weight of the law down on them.”
According to court documents and the evidence presented at trial:
In 2010 and 2011, MEREGILDO, COLON, and PIERCE were involved in a racketeering conspiracy arising out of their involvement in the criminal activities of the Courtlandt Avenue Crew. MEREGILDO, COLON, and PIERCE also committed various other crimes in aid of their racketeering activities, including conspiracy to commit murder and firearms offenses. MEREGILDO and COLON also committed murders, and PIERCE attempted murder. COLON and PIERCE also committed assault. The crew conducted its drug trafficking in the vicinity of Courtlandt Avenue between 151st and 158th Streets, across from the Melrose and Jackson Housing Projects in the South Bronx’s 40th Precinct. All three defendants and MIRANDA were also engaged in a narcotics conspiracy involving crack cocaine and marijuana. MEREGILDO, COLON, and PIERCE used, carried, and possessed firearms in furtherance of that conspiracy.
On July 25, 2010, PIERCE conspired to murder Jason Correa, who was murdered that day by the now-deceased leader of the Courtlandt Avenue Crew at 681 Courtlandt Avenue in the Bronx. Several days later, on July 31, 2010, MEREGILDO murdered Carrel Ogarro at 300 East 158th Street in the Bronx. On August 27, 2010, COLON murdered Delquan Alston at 285 East 156th Street in the Bronx.
In connection with the Courtlandt Avenue Crew’s criminal activities, PIERCE assaulted and attempted to murder a rival drug dealer on September 13, 2010 at 321 East 153rd Street in the Bronx. COLON also conspired to murder rival gang members and attempted to assault a rival gang member, which resulted in the shooting of an innocent bystander, on September 8, 2011 at 600 Morris Avenue in the Bronx.
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MEREGILDO was convicted of conspiracy to murder and the murder of Carrel Ogarro, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, and firearms possession and use. COLON was convicted of conspiracy to murder and the murder of Delquan Alston, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to murder rival gang members, assault in aid of racketeering, narcotics conspiracy, and firearms possession and use. PIERCE was convicted of conspiracy to murder Jason Correa, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, the assault and attempted murder of a rival narcotics trafficker, narcotics conspiracy, and firearms possession and use. MIRANDA was convicted of participating in a narcotics conspiracy with members of the Courtlandt Avenue Crew.
MEREGILDO was acquitted of conspiracy to murder a rival narcotics trafficker, and the assault and attempted murder of that individual. PIERCE was acquitted of the murder of Jason Correa and of conspiracy to murder a rival narcotics trafficker. MIRANDA was acquitted of racketeering conspiracy and a firearms possession charge.
MEREGILDO and COLON each face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. PIERCE faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole. MIRANDA faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, with a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, without the possibility of parole. All four defendants will be sentenced by Judge Pauley on April 19, 2013.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the New York City Police Department, who conducted the investigation of the case.
The investigation is a result of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program and it combined the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with local law enforcement.
This case is being overseen by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Nola B. Heller, Adam Fee, and Santosh Aravind are in charge of the prosecution.