Operation "Rotten Apple"

Major Drug Ring Busted in the Bronx on day of Big Game


Nov. 4, 2009 —

As ground crews were cleaning the fields of Yankee Stadium early this morning, 450 law officers were cleaning the streets of three drug gangs just ten blocks away.

The three gangs had operated openly in two Bronx housing projects, selling crack cocaine and heroin.

Officers seized glassine bags of heroin labeled "American Gangster," "Scorpion," and "Poison." They made 40 arrests and searched 22 locations.

The main drug dealing operation shut down was dubbed "the Courtland Avenue Organization." Two other gangs were also shut down, federal and local authorities said.

"Our mission is to improve the safety and the quality of life" in the city's neighborhoods, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara said, noting that in recent weeks his office has primarily been noted for White Collar crime cases. Those include the largest hedge fund insider trading case on record, indictments related to the Madoff case, and pretrial activity in the corruption case of a former New York City Police (NYPD) commissioner.

"Residents of the Bronx have a couple of reasons to be happy today," said current NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "The Yankees are back home and a major drug gang operating just ten blocks from the stadium was put out of business."

The arrests were made on six federal indictments by a task force, which included NYPD Major Case Detectives, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents, among other agencies.

Thirteen other members of the drug gangs are still being sought.

Despite a downward trend resulting in a 40 percent drop in crime, the neighborhood recently saw a spike in violent crimes, said Kelly.

During the past 18 months, the ATF says agents seized 45 guns used in crimes, traced 22 such firearms, and found that just two had been purchased in New York. According to the ATF, the rest came from South Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

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