Friday, April 12, 2013

Crack Crew Members Charged with Murders

BRONX, NEW YORK, April 12-Additional charges against 12 alleged members of drug trafficking crews based in the vicinity of Allerton Avenue Co-ops and the Parkside Houses in the Bronx.

Eleven of the 12 defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and possessing, brandishing, and discharging firearms in connection with and in furtherance of the charged crack cocaine conspiracy. In connection with the crack cocaine conspiracy, ARMANI CUMMINGS is charged with the January 2010 murder of Lequan Jones and the June 2010 murder of Carl Copeland, both of whom were shot in the Bronx. BRYAN RHODES is also charged with Copeland’s murder. JOSE MUNOZ is charged with the December 2011 murder of Shameek Young, who was shot in the Bronx. In addition, JESSIE MCCOLLUM is charged with a non-fatal, drug-related shooting in the Bronx on that same day. MUNOZ is also charged with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, participation in a Hobbs Act robbery, and his use of a firearm in connection with and in furtherance of it.

Nine of the defendants are already in custody in connection with charges contained in previous indictments related to this prosecution, which led to the arrests of 63 individuals and was the result of a coordinated operation involving federal, state, and local law enforcement officers. Two of the defendants were released on bail following their arrests in December 2011. One of the defendants remains at large. The defendants will be arraigned today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero on the charges in the Superseding Indictment at 2:00 p.m.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The charges in this indictment once again put the nexus between drugs, guns, and fatal violence into stark relief. Through patient and painstaking work, the investigators and prosecutors targeted violent drug operations, charged drug crimes at first, and eventually were able to charge drug-related murders, shootings, and other violent crimes which might have gone otherwise unaddressed. The law enforcement drumbeat will continue until we clean up the streets of our communities once and for all.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said: “The link between drug trafficking and gun violence could not be better illustrated than with this investigation. The defendants, initially charged with narcotics offenses, now stand charged with crimes of violence, including three fatal shootings. Policing drug trafficking reduces the threat of gun violence. That is the reason the FBI and the NYPD work these cases.”

NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “The charges announced today make clear the nexus between illicit drugs and violence, including murder, as well as the risk faced by police officers who work undercover to provide a modicum of safety to law abiding residents of public housing. I commend the NYPD detectives and the prosecutors in U.S. Attorney’s office for their thorough investigation.”

As alleged in the superseding indictment returned Wednesday and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court:

From 2006 through February 20, 2013, undercover officers with the NYPD made hundreds of purchases of crack cocaine from drug dealers in the Allerton Avenue Co-ops and Parkside Houses. During the buys, officers were able to purchase significant street level quantities of crack. In addition, members of the drug trafficking organization used firearms, threats of violence, and violence to secure and enforce their drug territory. This included the 2010 murder of Lequan Jones, the 2010 murder of Carl Copeland, and the 2011 murder of Shameek Young, all of which occurred in the Bronx. During the incident involving the fatal shooting of Young, an innocent bystander was shot and critically wounded.

A chart containing the ages, residency information, and charges against the defendants, as well as the maximum penalties they face is below.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the NYPD. He added that the investigation is continuining.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Timothy D. Sini and Hadassa Waxman are in charge of the prosecution.

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