Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the defendants, who were charged with the sale and possession of a criminal substance as well as conspiracy, could be sentenced to jail terms ranging from 15 years to life if convicted. The 16 people were charged along with two Manhattan residents, the alleged leaders of the drug operation, according to the DA.
"The defendants have been charged with selling crack cocaine and accused of drug dealing in Far Rockaway," Brown said. "The defendants will be vigorously prosecuted so as to ensure they never again threaten the lives of our children and our law-abiding citizens."
Brown said the following borough residents have been implicated in the alleged scheme: Wilfredo Medina of 446 Beach 47th St.; Kareen Hamilton, 22, of 441 Beach 51st St.; Elsa Perez, 39, of 249 Beach 15th St.; Jamal Hazel, 24, of 56-16 Beach Channel Dr.; Steven Hazel, 28, of 56-16 Beach Channel Dr.; Phil Erdaide, 32, of 331 Beach 332nd St.; Brian Hamilton, 34, of Beach 67th St.; and Noel Rodriguez, 33, of 11-10 Nielson St.
Also facing charges are Queens residents Lamar Thomas, 28, of 20-47 Seagirt Blvd.; Kazzie Johnson, 23, of 1318 Gipson St.; Jeremy Butts, 28, of 1332 Eggert Place; Kevin Thompson, 26, of 2915 Dwight St.; Dwayne Cohen, 29, of 444 Beach 65th St.; Mark Eugene, 28, of 1323 Eggert Place; Junior Cooke, 39, of 22-88 Mott Ave.; and Allen Sandoval of 22-46 Edgemere Ave., the DA said.
The defendants in the case include two Manhattan residents, Ramon Terrero, 27, and Ramon Maria, 38, both of 515 W. 183rd St., Brown said.
According to Brown, the defendants allegedly sold crack cocaine repeatedly to undercover Police Department officers on April 4, 2003 and April 16, 2003. Following those instances, authorities executed a court-authorized warrant for 1610 Caffrey Ave. and recovered 1 3/4 ounces and 3.5 grams of cocaine, plus $900, the district attorney said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said authorities were alerted to the alleged drug-selling scheme by neighborhood residents.
"Through a combination of technology, active community assistance and persistent police work, our officers helped bring this criminal enterprise to justice," Kelly said.
Brown said the investigation was conducted by officers in the New York Police Department Narcotics Borough Queens. He recognized the communication between police authorities and community residents in helping to bring charges against the defendants.
"The investigation and prosecution are the result of information developed within the Far Rockaway community from residents upset and concerned by illegal narcotics dealing and the threat it poses to their lives," Brown said.
"This case shows again that law-abiding citizens, police and prosecutors can work effectively together to protect public safety."
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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