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Press Release

New York City Police Officer Merlin Alston Convicted In Manhattan Federal Court For Participating In A Drug Distribution Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that New York City Police Officer MERLIN ALSTON, 33, was convicted today of narcotics and firearms charges for his role in a long-running conspiracy to distribute large amounts of cocaine and molly in the Bronx.  The jury convicted ALSTON on both counts in the controlling indictment following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon.   

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “Rather than use his police badge and gun to serve and protect the citizens of New York City, Merlin Alston instead chose to protect and serve major Bronx drug dealers.  Today’s unanimous jury verdict demonstrates that no one is above the law.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said:  “Merlin Alston’s crimes were an about-face to law enforcement.  As members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force worked to rid our communities of drugs, he was pushing drugs into them.  I applaud our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York for their efforts in this investigation.” 

According to court papers and evidence admitted at trial:

From 2010 to 2014, MERLIN ALSTON, who at the time was an active NYPD police officer, conspired with others to distribute large quantities of narcotics.  ALSTON personally delivered approximately 40 kilograms of cocaine during that time.  In addition, ALSTON provided armed security to a cocaine trafficker, using a shotgun and his NYPD service weapon to do so.  ALSTON also provided confidential information about law enforcement operations, including arrests and surveillance, to several Bronx drug dealers.

For these activities, ALSTON was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and one count of possession of firearms in furtherance of the narcotics conspiracy.  ALSTON faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.  ALSTON is scheduled to be sentenced on February 2, 2017, before Chief Judge McMahon.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. 

U.S. Attorney Bharara thanked the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York for its invaluable assistance, and praised the DEA, the FBI, and the NYPD for their outstanding work in this investigation.  The DEA New York Drug Enforcement Task Force comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the NYPD, and the New York State Police. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared Lenow and Thomas McKay are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated October 31, 2016

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 16-283