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Police arrested 54 people on suspicion of dealing drugs at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City last week, capping off a six−month undercover investigation in the massive 3,000−unit complex, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Police bought $22,220 worth of cocaine, $6,890 in heroin and $2,035 in marijuana over the course of 197 undercover drug buys in and around the largest public housing complex in the country, authorities said. Some 110 of those buys occurred on the grounds of the nearby Western Queens Nursery School, the DA said.
Officers also recovered three pistols and a bullet−resistant vest, the DA said.
“The nexus between illegal drugs and violence is inescapable, and the Police Department is committed to suppressing both in Queens wherever they occur,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
Some 36 suspects were indicted and charges were filed against the other 18, Brown said. Police said they were searching for another 25 suspects.
The defendants were charged with an array of crimes ranging from serious felonies to misdemeanors, including selling a controlled substance, weapons possession, selling marijuana, drug possession and disorderly conduct.
If convicted, they face sentences ranging from 15 years in prison to a $100 fine.
“These arrests underscore our commitment to continue to work to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Queensbridge Houses,” Brown said. “The result of this joint investigation should be a welcome relief to the many residents of the Queensbridge Houses who have been plagued with illegal drug trafficking near their homes and schools.”
Three separate drug organizations operated out of the Queensbridge Houses, Brown said, including one operation allegedly run by Sandra Aikens, 48, and her sons Derek, 28, and Nathan, whose age was not immediately available. Sandra Aikens and her two sons allegedly purveyed cocaine, heroin, marijuana and firearms, the DA said.
“These brazen drug dealers mistakenly thought that they were operating under wraps,” Brown said. “In fact, however, they were under investigation and marked for arrest and prosecution.”
The bust is not the first major drug operation to be shut down at the Queensbridge projects. In 2005, the city arrested 37 people on suspicion of operating a crack cocaine ring out of the commercial district at the center of the 26−unit complex. Rival groups agreed not to fight one another in order not to draw attention from police, authorities said.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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