The Queens District Attorney and the NYPD arrested the purported criminals, most of whom reside in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, for allegedly commuting into New York City to buy heroin and other drugs from a New York City drug ring.
The ring’s alleged leader has been identified as Jermel Broadhurst, 30, of 31-31 29th Street in Astoria. Broadhurst was charged with one count of operating as a major trafficker, nine counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, two counts of second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and various weapons possession charges. Additionally, he was charged with several counts of possession of a controlled substance. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
According to D.A. Richard Brown, “The main defendants are accused of operating as a tightly knit ring that catered almost exclusively to drug buyers from the eastern end of Long Island, virtually turning the Long Island Expressway into the ‘Heroin Highway’.”
Customers would call the main dealer, drive into New York City and meet the dealer’s runners at various locations in the city – including hotels, restaurants, diners, electronic stores and even a 99-cent store – in an effort to thwart surveillance, according to authorities. The suspects had no idea that they were under investigation by Brown’s office and the NYPD, being marked for arrest, prosecution and prison.
In carrying out the conspiracy, further allegations say that members answered telephone calls from customers, directed them to meeting loca- tions, warned associates of attempts by other parties to encroach on their business, discussed efforts to avoid prosecution, sold narcotics and received money from customers.
The NYPD’s Queens Narcotics Division and its Narcotics Investigation Bureau began investigating Broadhurst in November 2010. Through the monitoring of 10 different telephones allegedly utilized by Broadhurst, investigators learned that the defendant arranged hundreds of controlled substance transactions by directing customers to places where his associates delivered the goods.
It is alleged that in one sales transaction, an undercover officer called one of Broadhurst’s telephones and asked to buy some heroin. Broadhurst called the undercover officer back and agreed to the sale, directing the officer to a Best Western Hotel at 33-17 Greenpoint Ave. in Queens.
Around 7:30 that night, the undercover met Kirkland and arranged to purchase three bundles for $200. Kirkland is alleged to have gone into the hotel and come back out with 30 glassine envelopes containing heroin, which he then gave to the undercover in exchange for $200 cash.
It is also charged that an undercover officer texted Broadhurst to arrange to buy heroin. Broadhurst called the officer back and they arranged for the sale of 600 glassine envelopes of heroin for $2,400, a transaction that went down at a Subway restaurant at 51-22 Northern Blvd. in Queens.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly pointed out the associated dangers with the drug ring in his statement. “Where there are illegal drugs being sold, guns and violence are never far behind. One of the defendants was arrested with a loaded Glock on his way to a shoot a customer who owed him money. Another was arrested carrying a loaded AK-47 machine gun. Were it not for the work of NYPD Narcotics detectives and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, these dangerous dealers would still plague Queens streets.”
In addition to alleged drug transactions, a number of intercepted telephone calls allegedly pertained to weapons.
In one series of phone calls, police overheard Broadhurst asking Kirkland to find out whether his parents would store an assault rifle at their Far Rockaway residence. The parents agreed, but the car containing the gun was pulled over while in transit, revealing a Norinco semi-automatic MAK-90 assault rifle, along with a loaded magazine with a capacity in excess of ten rounds on the middle seat.
Over the course of the investigation, officers seized more than 8,000 glassine envelopes of heroin, more than five kilograms of heroin, 2.7 kilograms of cocaine and five pistols (four of them loaded), a shotgun and an assault rifle.
Eight alleged members of the drug ring were also arrested. Those facing drug charges include Broadhurst’s cousin, Shandell Crabb, and his girlfriend, Chelene R. Nelson, as well as Kenneth Kirkland, Melissa Franqui, Denise Martinez, Car- men Donatiu, Esteban Bello, Wilfred Ortiz and Patrick Fortune.
In addition to the arrests this week, officers executed three court-authorized search warrants and allegedly recovered heroin inside a grinder, scales, packaging, a loaded semi-automatic pistol, and various quantities of heroin, hydrocodone, cyclobenzene, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.
It was noted that 121 arrests have been made of individuals who allegedly purchased heroin and other drugs from Broadhurst’s operation during the undercover investigation. Of those arrested, approximately 90 individuals were from Suffolk County, 15 from Nassau County, seven from Queens County, three from Greene County (NY), two from Ocean County (NJ), one from Kings County and three whose residence is unknown.