The New York City Police Department has made four separate drug busts this week, putting more than 140 people behind bars to face charges ranging from attempted murder to drug possession. NY1’s Dean Meminger filed the following report.
They had plenty of guns, drugs and wads of money, but now four major drug crews from four boroughs are out of business.
"This has been a bad week for drug dealers and gang members in New York City," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Separate investigations, lasting nearly two years, netted more than 140 people: 56 from Far Rockaway, Queens, 40 in the Northeast Bronx, 31 in the New Brighton section of Staten Island and 22 from East Harlem.
Police allege the gang in Queens was affiliated with the Bloods and known as the Gang of Apes or “G.O.A.” Members face attempted murder, drug and weapons possession charges.
"This is the gang that had taken control of narcotics distribution in the Rockaways after the dismantling of the so-called flock gangs some 14 months ago," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
With so many people arrested in one week, some may wonder if the drug problem is getting worse in the city.
“No, I think generally speaking, it is getting better,” said Kelly. “I think this type of activity indicates the effort that’s being made on the part of the department to suppress illegal drug sales."
Representatives from Manhattan’s district attorney office said the DA busted 22 people who were allegedly responsible for a third of all cocaine sales in East Harlem.
Ceferina Perez, also known as “Papo,” is accused of being the drug kingpin and apparently idolized the character Tony Montana from the movie “Scarface.” Police officers say Perez superimposed his face over the face of actor Al Pacino.
"He is very proud of what he is doing, obviously, and he is quite arrogant," said Lori Pollock, an inspector at NYPD Manhattan North Narcotics.
Some may say a $2 million-a-year drug enterprise isn’t major, but investigators deny that. They said this crew sold many $20 bags of cocaine on the street, which constitutes a lot of drug movement.
"Hundreds of customers purchasing $20 bags,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. “These are neighborhood residents who are buying cocaine, becoming addicted to cocaine. Their lives are falling apart."
NYPD officials say drug arrests are down four percent this year compared to the same time period last year.