December 4, 2016
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FBI Rounds Up 78 In "Major Gang Takedown"

 

United States Charges 78 Members and Associates of Newburgh Bloods and Latin Kings with Narcotics Trafficking Crimes
Coordinated Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Strike in "Operation Blood Drive" and "Operation Black Crown" Shuts Down Vast Drug Operations in Newburgh, New York

FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos speaks at a press conference announcing the indictments as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, City of Newburgh Police Chief Eric Paolilli, and Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillps look on.

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); ERIC A. PAOLILLI, the Chief of Police for the City of Newburgh Police Department; FRANK PHILLIPS, the District Attorney for the Orange County District Attorney's Office; CARL E. DuBOIS, the Sheriff for the Orange County Sheriff's Office; RONALD B. TURK, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); JAMES T. HAYES, JR., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and JOSEPH R. GUCCIONE, the United States Marshal for the Southern District of New York (USMS), announced today the unsealing of two Indictments charging 60 members and associates of the Newburgh Bloods gang and 18 members and associates of the Newburgh Latin Kings gang with conspiracies to distribute, and possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and heroin. During two long-term, proactive investigations, dubbed "Operation Blood Drive" and "Operation Black Crown," federal, state, and local law enforcement officers working with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York used confidential informants, undercover officers, and physical surveillance to infiltrate drug trafficking crews that controlled the distribution of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, and cocaine in several areas of Newburgh, New York.

In a coordinated strike, nearly 600 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers from the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force—which consists of the FBI, City of Newburgh Police Department, Orange County District Attorney's Office, ATF, ICE, Orange County Sheriff's Office, New York State Police, United States Marshals Service, City of Middletown Police Department, Town of Newburgh Police Department, Town of New Windsor Police Department, Village of Monticello Police Department, City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, City of Beacon Police Department, New York State Department Of Corrections, New York State Department of Parole, and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services—arrested 19 defendants. Forty-four defendants were already in state or federal law enforcement custody. The remaining 15 defendants are still being sought.

The defendants in Operation Blood Drive who were taken into custody today are expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court later this afternoon. The defendants in Operation Black Crown who were taken into custody today are expected to be presented in White Plains federal court later this afternoon.

In connection with these arrests, federal and local law enforcement officers also executed court-authorized search warrants on 20 locations tied to many of the named defendants. During the arrests and searches, agents and officers seized, among other evidence: one machete, one shotgun, three handguns, thousands of dollars in drug proceeds, as well as crack cocaine.

SSRA Jim Gagliano briefs Acting Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos on the progress of the operation.

The Indictments

The allegations contained in the two Indictments announced today are described in greater detail below. The charges against each defendant and the corresponding maximum potential penalties are contained in charts below.

United States v. Anthony Boykin Jr., et al. (Operation Blood Drive)

The Operation Blood Drive Indictment charges 60 individuals who are members of, or affiliated or associated with, the nationwide gang known as the "Bloods" for their participation in a crack cocaine-trafficking conspiracy based in Newburgh, New York. Specifically, at all times relevant to the Indictment, a criminal organization known as the "Bloods" was operating in Newburgh. The Bloods is a nationwide criminal organization that is organized into sub-groups known as "sets." Among the sets operating in Newburgh (the "Newburgh Bloods") were the "Bounty Hunter Bloods," "G-Shine," "5-9 Brim," "Stone," and the "9 Trey Bloods." Members of the Newburgh Bloods often further identified themselves by the street on which they grew up or lived. Although members of the Newburgh Bloods belonged to different sets, these individuals and sets often coordinated, collaborated, and worked together and with each other as a single organization.

Within sets of the Newburgh Bloods, certain individuals had "rank," which meant that they were among the leaders of their sets. ANTHONY BOYKIN, a/k/a "Double O," had rank in the Bounty Hunter Bloods set. Nevertheless, any member of the Newburgh Bloods with rank had certain authority over any other member of the Newburgh Bloods, irrespective of set. For example, Newburgh Bloods with rank could, and did, call meetings of all the Newburgh Bloods for which attendance was mandatory. At these meetings, members of the Newburgh Bloods discussed, among other things, their criminal activities.

Members of the Newburgh Bloods with rank could also direct punishments against other members of the Newburgh Bloods or against non-members. Among these punishments were that individuals were to be assaulted or killed by members of the Newburgh Bloods. The Newburgh Bloods—who communicated, in part, in code—referred to a person who had been targeted for an assault or murder as "food," or as a "plate." Additionally, Newburgh Bloods with rank were permitted to induct other individuals into the Newburgh Bloods, a process known as "bringing them home."

500 FBI agents and law enforcement officers from numerous agencies attend pre-operation briefing at 0500.

The Newburgh Bloods had multiple criminal objectives, one of which was the operation of drug markets in certain locations in Newburgh, which distributed primarily cocaine base, or "crack." In particular, the Newburgh Bloods controlled drug markets in the vicinity of the following locations, among others, in Newburgh: South Miller Street, Lander Street (a portion of which is known as "Blood Alley"), Farrington Street, Lutheran Street, and Van Ness Street. All of these locations were within approximately ten blocks of one another in Newburgh.

The Newburgh Bloods allowed other members of the Newburgh Bloods, of whatever set, to sell crack cocaine in areas of Newburgh, controlled by the Newburgh Bloods. Generally speaking, non-members, outsiders, and rival narcotics dealers were prohibited or prevented from distributing narcotics in areas controlled by the Newburgh Bloods. Certain individuals—such as people who had grown up in areas controlled by the Newburgh Bloods, or marijuana dealers who often sold to members of the Newburgh Bloods—were permitted to distribute narcotics in areas controlled by the Newburgh Bloods, but did so at the risk of being robbed by members of the Newburgh Bloods.

Other individuals who were not members of the Bloods conspired with the Newburgh Bloods to operate the drug markets in Newburgh. Among other things, these associates of the Newburgh Bloods helped supply them with crack cocaine, and otherwise aided the criminal activities of the Newburgh Bloods, including narcotics distribution. The Newburgh Bloods also frequently utilized minors to commit criminal acts on behalf of the Newburgh Bloods, such as distributing narcotics, acting as lookouts, carrying weapons, and engaging in acts of violence. Some of these minors were themselves members of the Newburgh Bloods.

Members of the Newburgh Bloods and their associates committed and conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence to protect and expand their drug-trafficking operations, and to protect fellow members of the Newburgh Bloods. These acts including beatings, stabbings, and shootings intended to prevent people not affiliated with the Newburgh Bloods from distributing narcotics in areas controlled by the Newburgh Bloods, or to dissuade members of rival gangs, such as the Latin Kings, from encroaching on territory controlled by the Newburgh Bloods.

The Newburgh Bloods obtained crack cocaine from a number of different suppliers, some—but not all—of whom were members of the Newburgh Bloods. These suppliers often obtained the crack cocaine from Manhattan or the Bronx and transported it to Newburgh, New York, where the crack was distributed to the Newburgh Bloods for resale.

During the course of the investigation, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, using undercover officers and confidential informants, purchased crack cocaine on hundreds of occasions from members of the Newburgh Bloods and their associates at various locations in and near Newburgh. These sales were often recorded on audio and/or video. Law enforcement agents also recorded thousands of hours of surveillance of narcotics and gang activities in areas of Newburgh controlled by the Newburgh bloods.

The case is assigned to United States District Judge COLLEEN McMAHON.

New York State Police SWAT Team prepares to go on arrests.

United States v. Wilson Pagan, et al. (Operation Black Crown)

The Operation Black Crown Indictment charges 18 individuals who were members of, or affiliated or associated with, the nationwide gang known as the "Almighty Latin King And Queen Nation" or the "Latin Kings" for their participation in a crack cocaine, heroin, and cocaine-trafficking conspiracy based in Newburgh, New York. Specifically, the "Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation" (the "Latin Kings") are a nationwide criminal organization that was founded in the 1940s in Chicago, Illinois. The Latin Kings are organized into local chapters by geographic area. At all times relevant to this Indictment, a chapter of the Latin Kings was operating in the East End neighborhood of Newburgh, New York (the "Newburgh Latin Kings").

At all times relevant to this Indictment, the Newburgh Latin Kings were governed by a council of five officers, who were referred to as crowns (collectively, the "Crown Council"). Each crown in the Crown Council had a set of responsibilities specific to their position. The First Crown was the overall leader of the Chapter and ran all meetings of the Newburgh Latin Kings. The Second Crown was the second in command of the Chapter, served as an advisor to the First Crown, and assumed the leadership of the Chapter if the First Crown was absent or incapacitated. The Third Crown was the warlord and chief enforcer of the Chapter, and was responsible for the use of force by the Newburgh Latin Kings, both internally, to enforce discipline among members, and externally, to fight against other gangs such as the Bloods. The Fourth Crown was treasurer of the organization and was responsible for collecting dues from members of the Chapter at meetings and spending the Chapter's funds. The Fifth Crown was the secretary of the Newburgh Latin Kings and was responsible for keeping records of business conducted at Chapter meetings and for distributing Latin King literature to other members.

At certain times relevant to this Indictment, the following individuals held the following positions in the Crown Council: WILSON PAGAN, a/k/a "King Gunz," and ARMANDO SANCHEZ, a/k/a "King Malo," a/k/a "King Mondo," the defendants, held the position of First Crown; ROGELIO RAMOS, a/k/a 'King Bogelio," the defendant, held the position of Second Crown; PEDRO HERRERA, a/k/a "King Aventura," JASON CARABALLO, a/k/a "King Loco," and OSMAN NUNEZ, a/k/a "King Ozzy," the defendants, held the position of Third Crown; FERNANDO MERLO, a/k/a "King Diniero," the defendant, held the position of Fourth Crown; and JOSE LAGOS, a/k/a "King Gordo," the defendant, held the position of Fifth Crown.

The Crown Council decided who was admitted into the Newburgh Latin Kings. In order to be admitted into the Newburgh Latin Kings, an individual had to pass through two periods of initiation. The first stage, called "five alive," was a period in which the prospective member conducted activities with the Newburgh Latin Kings, but was not allowed to attend Chapter meetings. The second stage, called "probation," was a period in which the prospective member could conduct all Newburgh Latin Kings activities, but had not yet been admitted as a full member. After passing through the two periods of initiation, a prospective member could become a member (or full crown) of the Newburgh Latin Kings, if approved by the Crown Council.

The Newburgh Latin Kings had regular Chapter meetings at which attendance was mandatory and members were required to pay dues. At the meetings, members of the Newburgh Latin Kings discussed their criminal activities. The Crown Council also discussed any alleged transgressions of Chapter rules by members and directed punishments, known as "violations," against members who were determined to have committed transgressions. Furthermore, at the meetings the Newburgh Latin Kings also discussed conflicts with other gangs and, in some instances, the Crown Council used meetings to order attacks on individuals and rival gangs.

The Newburgh Latin Kings had multiple criminal objectives, one of which was the operation of drug markets at certain locations in the East End of Newburgh, from which they distributed cocaine base, commonly known as "crack," heroin, and powder cocaine, among other drugs. In particular, the Newburgh Latin Kings controlled drug markets in the areas of Benkard Avenue and William Street, Broadway between South Miller and Lutheran Streets, Washington and Clark Streets, and Dubois and First Streets. All of these markets were within a ten-block radius of one another in the East End of Newburgh.

The Newburgh Latin Kings allowed other members of the Newburgh Latin Kings to sell crack cocaine, heroin, powder cocaine, and other forms of narcotics, in areas of Newburgh they controlled. Generally speaking, non-members, outsiders, and rival narcotics dealers were prohibited or prevented from distributing narcotics in areas controlled by the Newburgh Latin Kings. Certain other people—such as individuals who had grown up in areas controlled by the Newburgh Latin Kings and those who paid extortionate fees, known as "rent," to the Newburgh Latin Kings—were also permitted to distribute narcotics in areas controlled by the Newburgh Latin Kings.

Additional individuals who were not members of the Newburgh Latin Kings conspired with them to operate the drug markets in Newburgh. Among other things, these individuals helped supply the Newburgh Latin Kings with crack cocaine, heroin, and powder cocaine, and otherwise aided the criminal activities of the Newburgh Latin Kings, including narcotics distribution.

Members of the Newburgh Latin Kings and their associates committed and conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence to protect and expand their drug- trafficking operation, and to protect fellow members of the Newburgh Latin Kings. These acts included beatings, stabbings, and shootings intended either to prevent people not affiliated with the Newburgh Latin Kings from distributing narcotics in areas controlled by the Newburgh Latin Kings, or to dissuade members of rival gangs, such as the Bloods, from encroaching on territory controlled by the Newburgh Latin Kings.

During the course of the investigation, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, using undercover officers and confidential informants, purchased crack cocaine, heroin, or powder cocaine over 45 times from members of the Newburgh Latin Kings and their associates at various locations in and near Newburgh often recording the transactions on audio and/or video. Law enforcement agents also seized a handgun and a rifle, along with nearly a half-kilogram of cocaine, from HUMBERTO MORALES, a member of the Newburgh Latin Kings.

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York stated: "Today, we bring new hope to the City of Newburgh. In recent months, the gang problem there has spiraled out of control. The drug problem has overwhelmed the City, and the cycle of violence that always comes with gangs and drugs has reached crisis proportions. The situation in Newburgh has, quite simply, become unacceptable. So today we have launched the most sweeping federal crackdown on gangs in the Hudson Valley in recent memory. This action would not have been possible without the close partnership of local, state, and federal officials, working together in an unprecedented cooperative effort."

GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI stated: "We know from experience that violence goes hand-in-hand with gangs and drugs. The FBI's commitment to Newburgh—and other communities plagued by gangs—is to do our part to restore neighborhoods to the good people who live in them. We recognize that law enforcement is just part of what's needed, but it's the part we play. Parents who live in Newburgh have as much right as parents anywhere not to live in fear that their children will be shot or stabbed."

ERIC A. PAOLILLI, the Chief of Police for the City of Newburg Police Department stated: "The City of Newburgh Police Department would like to thank all of the agencies involved in today's operation. The magnitude of this investigation and the results that we see here today would not have been possible without the commitment of every other agency in the Hudson Valley Gang Task Force. I believe that this operation will have not only immediate results in taking these offenders off of the street, but long-term effects by dissuading potential gang members with the long federal prison sentences that these defendants are facing. I would especially like to thank Supervisory Special Agent James Gagliano of the Goshen Office of the FBI. I believe his knowledge, expertise, enthusiasm and tenacity are what are responsible for the success of this operation."

FRANK PHILLIPS, the Orange County District Attorney stated: "I want to thank the members of local, state, and federal law enforcement whose tireless investigative work, for over a year, made this day possible. I also want to thank U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and his team of prosecutors for their commitment to make Orange County a safer place. In 2009, the Governor and New York State legislature repealed the Rockefeller Drug Laws and seriously reduced the ability of DA's to keep these drug gangs at bay. Without the resources of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, and their ability to utilize the much tougher sanctions of federal law, we would not be here today."

CARL E. DuBOIS, the Sheriff for the Orange County Sheriff's Office stated: "Law enforcement can only create the environment for the residents to take back their community. Government must partner with residents and make a protracted funding commitment to youth services and education to shortstop gang recruitment."

RONALD B. TURK, the Special Agent in Charge of ATF's New York Field Division stated: "Today's drug arrests sends a unified message that law enforcement will continue to target those criminals who plague our streets with their illicit poison. The Bloods and Latin Kings now in custody have preyed upon the Newburgh community for the last time. ATF, along with our partners, remains steadfast in protecting the public and will continue to target violent gangs to make our streets safer."

JAMES T. HAYES, JR., the Special Agent-in-Charge of ICE's New York Office of Investigations stated: "ICE will use all of its investigative tools and unique capabilities to disrupt and dismantle gangs and we will continue to provide valuable assistance to law enforcement agencies in their pursuit of combating gang violence in our communities."

Acting Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos (in suit) with SDNY First Assistant Boyd Johnson (hat).

JOSEPH R. GUCCIONE, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of New York stated: "Today the streets of Newburgh and outlying areas are safer than they were yesterday due to the collaborative efforts of multi-jurisdictional law enforcement agencies working together to achieve a common goal."

BRIAN FISCHER, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services stated: "Today's actions represent law enforcement at its best, with multiple levels of government cooperating to send the message that gang violence will not be tolerated. I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, the Newburgh Police Department, and the Orange County District Attorney's Office in particular for leading this investigation, as well as the other participating agencies for their critical contributions."

Mr. BHARARA praised all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and police departments of the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force for their extraordinary collective efforts in this investigation. He added that the investigation is continuing.

The prosecution of the cases arising from "Operation Blood Drive" and "Operation Black Crown" is being overseen by the Office's Violent Crimes Unit and the Office's White Plains

Division. Assistant United States Attorneys MICHAEL D. MAIMIN, HARRIS FISCHMAN, and AMIE ELY are in charge of the prosecution of Operation Blood Drive. Assistant United States Attorneys NICHOLAS McQUAID, KATHRYN MARTIN, BENJAMIN ALLEE, and MICHAEL D. MAIMIN are in charge of the prosecution of Operation Black Crown.

The charges contained in the Indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.




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