Photo Courtesy of DOJ
Luis Lopez’s Lamborghini (l.) and Peter Vasquez’s Rolls Royce
By Forum Staff
A 19-count superseding indictment was unsealed on Thursday in federal court charging five new suspects, and four previously charged defendants, for their roles in a drug-trafficking enterprise based in Queens and Brooklyn that resulted in at least four murders, according to prosecutors.
Known collectively as the “Bushwick Crew,” eight members have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion conspiracy and heroin-distribution conspiracy; and a ninth defendant is charged with murder in aid of racketeering.
According to authorities, Maurice Brown, 27, Jaquan Cooper, 30, and Tyquan Griem, 28, were arrested last Wednesday; Norman Marrero, 35, was arraigned on Thursday and ordered detained; Lance Goodwin, 29, was arrested on Thursday.
The four previously charged defendants are: Luis Lopez, 36; Jason Pantojas, 30; Miguel Pantojas, 31; and Peter Vasquez, 31.
According to charging documents, the Bushwick Crew was involved in a large-scale heroin trafficking organization with Mexican cartel connections. Various members of the crew served as enforcers to protect its interests by arming themselves to escort drug traffickers, forcibly collecting drug debts and committing acts of violence against anyone who interfered with the crew’s operations or offended its members.
Federal prosecutors said the crew’s crimes included the murders of Donte Williams, Gary Lopez, Rudy Superville, and Kelvin Johnson.
For example, on March 5, 2013, Gary Lopez and Superville attempted to rob one of the crew’s main heroin distributors at the distributor’s apartment. Lopez and Superville were shot and wounded by the distributor. Brown, Vasquez, Luis Lopez, Jason Pantojas and his brother Miguel Pantojas were summoned by the distributor to the apartment where they beat and tortured Lopez and Superville. Lopez called 911 to plead for help and was shot dead by Brown. Superville attempted to flee the apartment and was fatally stabbed by Jason Pantojas. The bodies were doused with bleach and ammonia, wrapped in plastic and driven to a field in Queens by Brown, Lopez and Vasquez, as well as other crew members. At the field, the victims were soaked with gasoline and ignited.
And on Sept. 20, 2014, Griem and the aforementioned heroin distributor went to a nightclub in Queens where a fight broke out. Griem retrieved a handgun stashed in a secret trap in the distributor’s car and opened fire, killing Kelvin Johnson.
Federal prosecutors noted that if convicted of the murder charges, Brown, Goodwin, Griem, Lopez, Jason Pantojas, Miguel Pantojas and Vasquez face mandatory life sentences. If convicted of the drug and gun-related charges, Cooper and Marrero face mandatory minimum sentences of 17 years’ and 20 years’ imprisonment, respectively, and a maximum of life behind bars.