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HSI New York dismantles violent drug trafficking crew

NEW YORK — Members of a violent Bronx drug trafficking crew were arrested and charged Thursday with distributing crack cocaine and other drugs. These charges come as a result of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led El Dorado Task Force (EDTF) in New York.

Special agents and police officers arrested 21 members and associates of the Murder Moore Gangstas (MMG), a violent drug trafficking crew based in and around the Moore Houses in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. They were charged with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, powder cocaine, marijuana, MDMA-ecstasy, and painkillers, as well as assorted firearms offenses.

"Today's arrests dealt a significant blow to a criminal organization that allegedly peddled crack cocaine and marijuana throughout New York City communities," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "The successful outcome of this investigation is exactly why HSI's El Dorado Task Force brings together local and federal law enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt criminal factions that distribute illegal drugs contributing to the demise of our society."

"This violent gang and drug trafficking organization has been dismantled and taken off the streets today to eliminate fear from the community and to keep our streets safe," said Wilbert L. Plummer, acting special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New York Field Division. "Cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana were being distributed in open air markets, and through our collaborative efforts from the law enforcement community we have arrested those responsible and put them behind bars."

"With today's arrests in the Bronx, there are 21 fewer alleged criminals infesting the streets with narcotics and using deadly firearms to support and defend their illegal trade," said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Cleaning up the neighborhoods in this district so that residents can live in peace, knowing their communities and their children are safe, remains one of our top priorities."

"ATF is committed to working alongside our law enforcement partners to impact and reduce violent crime in New York City," said Joseph Anarumo Jr., special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in New York. "Today's arrests and seizures exemplify that cooperative effort to remove violent, predatory criminals from our streets."

"These gang members pushed illegal narcotics and used violence and intimidation to further their drug trade," said Raymond W. Kelly, commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). "I want to commend the NYPD Bronx Gang Squad and particularly the undercover detectives who at great risk to themselves took drugs, guns and ultimately these suspects off the streets."

"As part of the El Dorado Task Force, the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division works with our law enforcement partners to accomplish a number of objectives to make life better for the citizens of the New York City–Metropolitan area," said Victor W. Lessoff, acting special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID). "Combating drugs and violence on our streets, using our financial investigative expertise, is one of them."

In a coordinated operation Wednesday and Thursday; federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested 14 MMG members and associates in the Bronx. One of the charged defendants was previously arrested on state charges, and six defendants are still at large.

According to court documents, between December 2011 and June 2012, undercover detectives with NYPD made multiple purchases of crack cocaine and other drugs from MMG members and associates in the Moore Houses area of the Bronx. Investigators also had court-authorized wiretaps on some of the defendants' phones, and intercepted them engaging in their drug business.

Defendants Juan Fernandez, Ramon Morales, Odell Scarborough, Yemelia Ayala, Angel Alicea, Emmanuel Miller, Robert Rivera, Eugene Miller, Edward Brown, Lamont Robinson, James Miller, Alberto Bajana, Miguel Otero, Bryan Cummings, Jose Valdez, Dennis Sanders, Nathaniel Johnson, Kristopher Meade, Rolando Montes and Ricky Walker are charged in an indictment with conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, powder cocaine, marijuana, MDMA and oxycodone/roxycodone. The defendants operated in and around 550 Cauldwell Avenue and 480 Concord Avenue, the Bronx. Fernandez, Morales, Scarborough, Emmanuel Miller, Edward Brown and Rolando Montes are also charged with possessing firearms in connection with their drug activity.

Defendant Melvin Caceres is charged in a complaint with trafficking in firearms without a license.

On Thursday law enforcement officers searched six locations in the Moore Houses area and recovered, among other items, a rifle, a revolver and drug paraphernalia. Officers also recovered small quantities of crack cocaine, powder cocaine and marijuana from certain of the defendants.

The six other defendants charged in the indictment; Eugene Miller, Johnson, Montes, Otero, Rivera and Valdez remain at large.