L.E.S. drug ring busted
Following a nearly two-year investigation by narcotics officers, including one who was deep undercover, police busted a Lower East Side drug ring that allegedly pushed crack cocaine to public housing residents, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on Oct. 15.
Eleven members of the group were charged with major drug felonies, after the investigation — which was also aided by the D.A.’s Office — revealed the inner workings of the operation. The ring centered on sales of both small and large amounts of crack to people around Jacob Riis Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development between E. Eighth and E. 13th Sts. along Avenue D.
The group’s alleged leader, Dwayne Mitchell, 35, stands accused of buying huge, wholesale quantities of crack from a supplier, Sabed Rahman, 29, who was also arrested. The two men reportedly had regular meetings to exchange the drugs and stacks of cash, including some meetings at a Midtown Starbucks, the D.A. said.
Mitchell and Rahman are both charged with first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, second-degree conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance at or near school grounds and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. In addition, Mitchell is charged with second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree money laundering.
The nine other people arrested, ranging in age from 29 to 44, were all charged with second-degree conspiracy, while four were hit with additional drug sale and possession charges.
According to court documents, the group did its business through a network of cell phone calls, using code words like “chicken,” “donuts” and “food” to refer to drugs or money. Statements from the alleged crack ring’s members also reportedly show that they spent massive amounts of cash on Mercedes-Benz luxury cars and other pricey status symbols.
“Drug dealers have no place in public housing,” said Vance. “For years, these criminals are alleged to have run a large-scale drug operation out of the Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side, a pocket of our city already struggling against crime and violence. Thanks to the heroic work of an undercover officer who managed to infiltrate this organization at its highest level, the drug dealing stops today.”
Police arrested Jaime Vitagliano, 32, after she allegedly stole a man’s wallet and cell phone while dancing with him at a nightclub in the Meatpacking District early on Sun., Oct. 13.
The man, 23, told cops that he and Vitagliano were getting hot and heavy on the dance floor at Tenjune, a club on Little W. 12th St., around 3:15 a.m., when he felt her put her hands into his pants pockets. And instead of a happy ending, he got a sad surprise when he realized what she was really up to, after which Vitagliano reportedly ran out of the club and jumped into a cab near the entrance.
But the man followed in pursuit, flagged down a couple of officers and pointed her out before she could slip away. Vitagliano was charged with robbery, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
ID wasn’t ‘standard’
Police arrested Ashley Bete, 37, when she was caught carrying a fake identification cards after a disgruntled exchange at a bar in the Standard Hotel early on Sat., Oct. 12.
Employees called police around 2 a.m., after Bete apparently refused to pay her $169 bill at the Standard Biergarten, which sits below the Highline on Washington St., between Little W. 12th and W. 13th Sts. questioned, Bete allegedly gave the officers both a fake driver’s license and a fake Social Security card. She was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument.
All the wrong stuff
Police arrested Jimmy Hall, 50, in a West Village subway station for alleged weapon and drug-related offenses on the morning of Oct. 9.
Officers said they found Hall around 6 a.m., as he was lying on the floor of a southbound E train at the W. Fourth St. subway stop, obstructing the path of commuters trying to enter and exit the train. When he was approached and questioned, Hall reportedly refused to provide his name of identification and tried to walk away, so he was stopped and searched.
Officers said they found Hall was carrying a razor blade, two alleged crack cocaine rocks, a glass pipe with alleged crack residue and two forged MetroCards. Hall was also said to have resisted arrest by flailing his body and arms while cops were trying to handcuff him, as he reportedly said, “Oh no, I’m not gettin’ arrested.”
Hall was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a forged instrument and resisting arrest.
- Sam Spokony