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Bland Houses drug sweep nabs five alleged dealers

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Five men were arrested last week on charges of selling crack cocaine to undercover police officers at Bland Houses, a public housing development in downtown Flushing, the district attorney said.

Troy Bennett, 19, Darren Hickman, 20, and Tyrell Ogletree, 23, who all live in Bland at 133-50 Roosevelt Ave., were charged in the anti-drug enforcement initiative Tuesday, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Francis Garoufalis, 42, of 208-11 26th Ave. in Bayside and Mandell Turner, 23, of 15-40 Hassock St. in Far Rockaway were also arrested in the drug sweep, the district attorney said.

The five men were arrested Friday and each face 25 years in prison if convicted, the DA said.

The men had yet to be arraigned in front of a judge as of press time, a spokeswoman for Brown said.

Each man allegedly sold crack cocaine to undercover officers at least twice in a period from early January to early April, the district attorney said.

Many of the deals took place in the buildings themselves, while others were made on street corners near Bland, the district attorney said.

“The indictment resulted from information provided to my office by an individual who was upset and concerned by illegal narcotics dealing,” Brown said in a news release. “This prosecution shows that residents, police and prosecutors can work effectively together to protect public safety.”

The first of the alleged drug deals came just three weeks after police mistakenly raided the apartment of a great grandmother living in Bland.

On Dec. 13 at 4:30 a.m., a group of police officers with guns drawn broke into the apartment of 81-year-old Jushik Min, a Korean immigrant who does not speak English, according to Terence Park, the community activist who took on her case. Authorities mistakenly believed that drugs were being dealt out of Min’s apartment.

Min was frightened but otherwise unharmed. A police report about the incident caused the New York City Housing Authority to begin an eviction process against Min.

In April, Park and local politicians said the city had stopped trying to kick Min out of Bland.

Bland has five buildings and about 1,600 residents, according to Donald Henton, the president of its resident association.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

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