Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against 17 Individuals In Connection With A Violent Manhattan Drug Trafficking Crew
One Defendant Charged with a Murder-for-Hire Conspiracy; Seven Defendants Charged with Firearms Offenses
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Raymond W. Kelly, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), today announced charges against 17 members of a criminal organization based in Harlem, New York for conspiring to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana. The Superseding Indictment also charges seven of the defendants with possessing firearms in connection with, and in furtherance of, the drug distribution conspiracy. One defendant, ROGER KEY, was also charged in the original indictment with orchestrating a murder-for-hire conspiracy of an individual at gunpoint.
Of the 16 new defendants charged, 10 were taken into custody last night and early this morning as part of a coordinated operation involving federal and local law enforcement officers. All the defendants who were arrested last night and this morning will be presented in Manhattan federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman. RUBEN DAVIS and RUBEN FERNANDEZ were previously arrested by the NYPD on related state charges and remain detained. STEVEN HERBERT is currently detained on an unrelated federal charge. GEORGE DAVIS is expected to surrender later to law enforcement today, and KEITH PURVIS and CLAYTON MOLLETTE remain at large.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, this pack of gun-toting drug dealers wrought havoc, instilled fear, and peddled highly addictive – and sometimes lethal – narcotics in the Harlem neighborhood in which they operated. With today’s indictment, they are now off the streets, but our work is not finished and we remain committed to shutting these violent drug crews down completely. I want to thank New York County District Attorney, Cyrus Vance and his office, who began the investigation into this alleged narcotics crew and shared the fruits of their investigation with our Office, enabling us to build this case. It is another great example of our Offices working together in a way that best serves the case and the interests of the people of Manhattan.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said: “For the second time in as many days we are announcing charges in a significant drug trafficking case, and again we see the ever-present link between drugs and guns. If your business is peddling illegal drugs, the business almost always entails violence to protect it. The FBI is committed to teaming with the NYPD in vigorous policing of the illegal drug trade in our mutual effort to reduce violent crime.”
NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “These arrests are another example of police and their federal partners’ unrelenting pursuit of crews who monetize drugs and violence. I commend the NYPD Manhattan North Narcotics detectives who worked to bring these criminals to justice, to restore some measure of safety to Harlem residents. Their work is among the reasons why New York City experienced a record low in shootings and murder last year.”
As alleged in the Superseding Indictment unsealed today and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court:
From at least 2009 through May 2012, members of the crew sold significant street level quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana in Harlem, New York. Members of the crew used firearms, threats of violence and violence to protect their drug business.
Additionally, in November 2011, KEY and others recruited and hired individuals to shoot and kill a victim. During the assassination attempt, one of KEY’s co-conspirators, however, shot and hit an innocent bystander, who was standing near the intended victim’s car. The innocent bystander survived.
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A chart containing the ages, residency information, and charges against the defendants, as well as the maximum penalties they face is attached.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the NYPD. He also thanked the New York County DA’s Office for sharing evidence that ultimately led to today’s charges. He added that the investigation is continuing.
The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office's Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Abigail Kurland, Adam Fee, and Santosh Aravind are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.