New York authorities announced at press conference Wednesday a major drug bust in Harlem. About 35 members of an alleged drug ring were arrested or indicted in an early morning takedown, including an 8-year-old boy, and are being brought up on drug-related charges.
After a 15-month investigation, police hauled in Lamont Big Bro Moultrie, 41, and Bernard Little Bro Moultrie, 39, who were both out on parole for murder. Authorities allege they were the leaders of a crime ring that primarily distributed PCP, along with cocaine and heroin, throughout East Harlem.
The Moultrie brothers allegedly purchased substantial amounts of PCP in liquid form, often spraying it on spearmint leaves. They usually sold the drugs for $10, and netted about $1 million a year, police said. When the arrests were made, police discovered two and half gallons of PCP in Hawaiian Punch bottles, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
It was a very difficult operation to conduct, said the commissioner. Kelly said it was a tight, close knit gang who often knew the regular buyers.
The Moultrie brothers organized their gang in a similar fashion of other organized crime syndicates, according to police. They were the unequivocal leaders of the crew. They controlled and directed the distribution of the narcotics to their lieutenants, Melvin Tarleton, 45, and Aaron Williams, 33. The lieutenants assisted in the transporting and packaging of the drugs. Trevor Price, 48, Albert Roach, 36, Eric Flake, 54, and Uquinn Banks, 25, served as managers, authorities said. They supervised the distribution of PCP, cocaine and heroin by making sure it was properly distributed to their subordinate members, the street dealers. Many of the members also have a history of violence and have been arrested for assault, robbery and gun possession.
The Moultries also employed an unidentified 8-year-old boy, who police said is a nephew of one of the defendants. He acted as a lookout. Authorities said he is currently under the supervision of Administration for Children's Services.
Even as this neighborhood has improved over the years, drug sales over the last 15 month are beginning to attract addicts from other boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey, and even as far away as Vermont, said Kelly.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said that the police began looking into this operation as a direct response to community complaints.
Neighbors told us directly that they walked in their hallways and streets in fear as their community filled up every afternoon with those people buying and selling drugs, said Vance. In the past year, authorities said they dismantled six drug gangs in Manhattan, including the Moultries'. Each one of these organized cases represents a community that has previously been under siege and whose residents are living in considerably safer conditions.
Kelly told a story of how the one of the customers suffered a horrific death. He recounted the story of Hilda Santiago, a resident of the Bronx, traveled to Manhattan with her niece to buy and smoke PCP. While smoking the drug, she had accidently set herself on fire and succumbed to her injuries.
It is an incredibly powerful drug, said Vance. Authorities believe, however, they have made major advances in high crime and violent areas, by continuing to make arrests and prosecutions. Kelly said the NYPD only intends to make those communities even safer.
We intend to preserve those gains by continuing to suppress narcotics gangs and related violence.