NYPD, feds bust drug rings

Year-long sting nets 25 for dealing

The US attorney for New York City and the city’s top cop announced yesterday they have busted up a Mott Haven-based operation that sold crack in Mott Haven and Melrose between October 2011 and November of this year.

In all, 45 defendants were named in the three indictments handed down on Dec. 13. The federal government and NYPD collaborated on the megabust.

Twenty-five of the defendants are in custody. Twenty are still at large.

In the indictments, the US attorney’s office alleges that the defendants conducted many of their transactions on and around the grounds of two NYCHA complexes, the Patterson Houses on E. 143rd St. and Mott Haven Houses on E. 141st St. In addition, they are alleged to have dealt at the privately-owned Maria Lopez Plaza Apartments on Morris Avenue.

“The arrests of these defendants for allegedly trafficking in this poison are a significant step toward cleaning up the neighborhoods in which they operated,” said Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York.

The city’s chief of police, Raymond Kelly, said that the city cops and federal officers who collaborated on the year-long undercover operation “won’t allow crack dealers to undermine the safety of the law-abiding public in the Bronx.”

The defendants named in the sting range in age from 19 to 52, all with Bronx addresses.

Twenty-four defendants in United States vs. Alex Martinez, also known as “A-Rod,” and 16 defendants in United States vs. Kareem Lanier, face maximum terms of 40 years in prison and five-year mandatory minimum terms. Kareem Lanier faces a possible life sentence for carrying a gun while selling.

The five defendants in United States v. Juan Castillo, a/k/a “Max,” face maximum sentences of 20 years.

The US Attorney’s office emphasized that the suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.