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Major gang crackdown in Queens

April 16, 2010 2:21:11 PM PDT
Dozens of people have been arrested in Queens in a sweeping crackdown on gangs, drugs and deadly violence. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the arrests of 84 people as part of a large-scale investigation focused on narcotics and firearms trafficking activities allegedly engaged in by the Flocc street gang.

The gang is an alliance consisting of four distinct Crips sets, each with its own leadership, and individual Bloods members and associates based in Far Rockaway and other sections of Queens County, authorities said.

Through the use of court-authorized wiretaps, investigators said they learned that Keith Livingston, an alleged Bloods associate, possessed firearms and planned to shoot police officers performing foot patrol from a rooftop in Jamaica, Queens. In September 2009, Livingston was charged with criminal possession of weapons after police allegedly seized a duffle bag containing a 9mm handgun, a defaced 9mm hi-point rifle and various amounts of ammunition belonging to him.

Among the 84 individuals so far arrested are 45 alleged gang members with ties to the Crips - including a former City Correction Officer - and 26 purported Bloods affiliates. In addition, information developed during the two-year investigation has led to arrests with respect to two homicides, numerous gang shootings, and a plot to murder police officers on foot patrol in Jamaica, Queens, and the seizure of 60 handguns, more than five kilograms of cocaine, 567 decks of heroin, two pounds of marihuana and approximately $50,000 in narcotics proceeds. At least eight other individuals are still being sought.

"This investigation strikes at the heart of a highly unified and criminally active street gang that turned the seaside Queens neighborhood of Far Rockaway into a war zone and threatened the lives and safety of innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers," District Attorney Brown said. "This untraditional gang alliance's alleged propensity for violence knew no bounds. In one instance, a marked NYPD patrol car occupied by two officers was shot at during a shootout between rival gangs. Fortunately, both officers escaped injury."

The investigation, known as "Operation: Under Siege," began in early 2008 when NYPD officers assigned to the Queens Gang Squad and District Attorney Brown's Narcotics Investigations Bureau began to focus resources on an alleged drug and gun trafficking network in Far Rockaway.

Police commissioner Raymond Kelly said the gang was so violent that they even targeted members of their own family.

"In one home invasion, three brothers who were members of the gang robbed their own sister and pistol-whipped the person that she was with," Kelly said. "The sister had received a small inheritance from her deceased mother and her brothers were intent on stealing it."

During the course of the investigation, authorities learned that specific sets of the Crips street gang had joined forces with individual Bloods street gang members to create a larger unified gang known as the Flocc gang, which rose to power in Far Rockaway and led to a surge of violent crime and bloodshed in the area.

The gang allegedly funded their criminal enterprise, which grossed approximately $15,000 per week, through the illegal sale and distribution of narcotics throughout Far Rockaway and South Jamaica, Queens. The Flocc gang is also alleged to have been responsible for the violent crime, and gang-motivated offenses such as shootings and robberies, in Far Rockaway.

Among those arrested were numerous alleged Wildmeda gang members, including its alleged leader Antoine Nance, Jamar Pledger, Jamal Eigner, Jasper Pledger, Jonathan Pledger, Lester Carpenter and Jason Jones, for the murder of Joseph Azoro, 25, who was fatally shot at the Edgemere Houses in Far Rockaway on Friday, April 2, 2010. Also alleged Bloods gang members Berry Gray and Wayne Young were arrested in August 2009 on second-degree murder charges for fatally shooting alleged fellow gang member Roland Spivey, 19, earlier that month.

Also arrested was Derrick Hardy, the alleged leader of GOA. Hardy, along with alleged GOA members Jonathan Crosby, William Spencer and George Delgado, were charged with the attempted murder of Dashawn Hines, a member of the rival Bloods gang, on January 10, 2010. Hardy was also charged along with Antwan Jack for a September 2009 altercation with members of the rival "Klick Klack" set of the Bloods, during which a marked NYPD patrol car was shot at while occupied by two officers.

In another case, reputed GOA member Ronald Manifold was apprehended with a .32 caliber gun at a carnival in Far Rockaway in June 2009, just minutes before he was allegedly about to commit a gang-related shooting. Similarly, alleged GOA member Cody Matias was arrested in September 2009 with a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a magazine with two rounds. Matias was arrested in a livery cab while allegedly en route to commit a retaliatory gang-related shooting in Far Rockaway. Both Manifold and Matias are serving two years in prison.

The investigation also led to the arrests of numerous gang members who were storing handguns for such high-ranking members of the Flocc gang as Gquan Lloyd, the reputed leader of the GIB set. Among those arrested was former City Correction Officer and alleged GIB member Farrad Smith. On October 28, 2009, a search warrant was executed at Smith's residence and police allegedly recovered a 9mm pistol from under the mattress that allegedly had been stolen from a fellow Correction officer in Queens earlier that year, a loaded and defaced AK47 wrapped in a blanket behind the headboard, a 12-gauge shotgun and assorted boxes of ammunition.

Also charged in the investigation was reputed GIB member Steven Caraballo, who is an alleged firearms and narcotics supplier in Far Rockaway. Pursuant to a search warrant executed at his residence in February 2010, police allegedly recovered fourteen weapons ? including twelve loaded handguns (some of which were defaced) and two assault rifles - 1,350 rounds of assorted ammunition, more than eight ounces of cocaine (powder and crack), more than two ounces of marijuana, 308 ecstasy pills, 23 glass bottles containing steroids, more than $500 worth of fireworks and $8,000 in cash.

In another case, it is charged, information was developed during the investigation that a number of alleged Hassock Boys gang members - such as Kasson Brown, its leader; LakiemWilliams, a captain; Malik Hogan, a lieutenant; Douglas Ballard; and Shadean Samuel - were in possession of a loaded 9mm Glock handgun reported stolen from a Florida police officer.

In addition to the murders and other violent acts, Flocc members were charged with the sale and distribution of cocaine and heroin to street level dealers as well as users in the Far Rockaway area. Tracey Coleman and Lloyd Reavis, among others, were also arrested and charged with supplying narcotics to gang members in Far Rockaway and the South Jamaica Houses.

Finally, information obtained during the investigation led to the arrest of reputed Bloods member Xavier Scott who was hiding out in Far Rockaway for an alleged armed carjacking committed in 2008 in Prince George County, Maryland, and for an assault he allegedly committed in 2007, also in Maryland.


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