More than two dozen members of a Bronx drug trafficking organization were arrested Wednesday following a joint operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in New York, and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
Two indictments were unsealed charging 25 defendants with a variety of narcotics, firearms, and robbery-related offenses.
Of the 25 defendants, 21 are associated with a drug-distribution organization operating primarily in the Hunts Point neighborhood in the Bronx and are charged in United States v. Hector Palermo, et al. (Palermo Indictment).
Of those defendants, 14 were taken into federal custody Wednesday.
“It’s a good day when more than two dozen alleged gun-wielding drug pushers are taken off the street,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York.
“These individuals are alleged to deal crack cocaine and heroin in their own backyards and commit robberies at gunpoint.”
“Today’s arrests are another great example of law enforcement working together in the interest of justice and making our communities safer.”
“Today’s arrests are the culmination of a nearly two-year long investigation by ATF’s Joint Firearms Task Force, NYPD, and HSI into alleged narcotics trafficking, armed robberies, and the illicit possession of firearms by criminal elements operating in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx,” said ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict.
“Through the cooperative efforts of law enforcement, these individuals are off the streets and will face justice in federal court for their alleged crimes.”
“Today it is a better day to be a resident of Hunts Point, and all of us will continue our efforts to ensure it stays that way. I would like to extend my gratitude to the ATF and HSI Special Agents, NYPD Detectives, and Assistant United States Attorneys for their hard work and dedication throughout this investigation.”
“We will continue to pursue those who commit violence in our streets. This morning’s arrest of 25 defendants in the Bronx is just the latest example. I’m thankful to the help and cooperation from our many law enforcement partners in this takedown and many others,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
“One by one, our office, along with our law enforcement partners, is identifying and prosecuting the violent gangs and drug dealing crews operating in the Bronx.”
“These alleged gangs and drug crews – including the ones charged today – bring narcotics, guns, and violence to our neighborhoods. The residents of the communities they harm deserve better,” said Manhattan Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.
The indictments arise from a joint investigation by the NYPD, ATF, and HSI into several drug trafficking organizations operating in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx, New York.
As alleged in the Palermo indictment, the 21 defendants charged in that case are responsible for the distribution of large amounts of crack cocaine and heroin, and used, carried, and possessed firearms in connection with that drug trafficking.
As alleged in the Clark indictment, Lattine Clark, Michael Patterson, and Trevon Nedd participated in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in the Hunts Point area, and Ruben Vizcarrando participated in another conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in Hunts Point.
As further alleged, Clark was a participant in a shootout, during which he fired a gun, in the vicinity of Coster Street and Spofford Avenue, on October 16, 2016.
Patterson, Nedd, and Vizcarrando are all alleged to have participated in a Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy, and a gunpoint Hobbs Act robbery of suspected narcotics traffickers in the Marble Hill area on June 22, 2016, during which robbery Patterson and another unnamed co-conspirator fired their weapons.
Count One of the Palermo indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court, charges Hector Palermo, Miguel Guzman, Miguel Ramirez, Felix Cordero Sr., Matthew Prestol, Chris Alicea, Khaaliq Harris, Adrian Quinones, Frederick Burgos, Rafael Gonzalez, Angel Bermudez, Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Jesus Andino, Elvin Maldonado, Jose Ayala, Esteban Martinez, Christian Rivera, Steven Vega, Denise Ortiz, Carmen Roman, and Ashley Rodriguez with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin.
Count Two charges Guzman, Ramirez, Cordero Sr., Prestol, Alicea, Burgos, Gonzalez, Rodriguez, and Vega, with using, possessing, and carrying firearms in furtherance of the drug conspiracy charged in Count One.
Count Three charges Ramirez with possessing ammunition, which had previously been shipped in interstate commerce, after a prior felony conviction.
Count One of the Clark Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, charges Lattine Clark, Trevon Nedd, and Michael Patterson with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine.
Count Two charges Clark with using, possessing, and carrying firearms in furtherance of the drug conspiracy charged in Count One.
Count Three charges Ruben Vizcarrondo with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine.
Count Four charges Nedd, Patterson, and Vizcarrondo with participating in a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery between 2015 and May 2017. Count Four charges that this conspiracy involved armed robberies of suspected narcotics traffickers and others involved in commercial activities that affected interstate commerce.
Count Five charges Nedd, Patterson, and Vizcarrondo with committing a robbery of suspected narcotics traffickers on June 22, 2016, in the vicinity of Marble Hill, New York.
One defendant, Frederick Burgos, was presented in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Miguel Ramirez, Felix Cordero Sr., Khaaliq Harris, Angel Bermudez, Elvin Maldonado, and Steven Vega remain at large.
The charges in the indictments are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York Violent and Organized Crime Unit.