Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly arrested 29 people who were allegedly part of a loose-knit Howard Beach drug ring which sold cocaine, Ecstasy, ketamine, Vicodin, and marijuana.
The drug ring allegedly reaped over $1 million per year working on the fringe of Gambino mob turf, and has been indicted on 102 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first, second, third, fourth and fifth degree; criminal sale of marijuana in the first and third degree, criminal sale of a firearm in the third degree, grand larceny in the second degree, money laundering in the fourth degree and conspiracy in the second, fourth, and fifth degree. Some of the defendants face life in prison if convicted.
The alleged leaders of the crews were Marcus Carrasquillo, 26; Joseph Dipierro, 20; Sean Maguire, 22; Salvatore Nardone, 26; all of Howard Beach; and Nazih Nassar, 30, of Ridgewood.
One of the other suspects, Christopher Carneglia, 31, of Howard Beach, is the son of an alleged Gambino crime family capo, Charlie Carneglia, who is serving 50 years in prison for murder and racketeering. He was allegedly an enforcer for Maguire.
Another suspect, 40-year-old Richard Maldone, of Long Beach, Long Island, who played a capo named Albert on the hit HBO TV series “The Sopranos,” allegedly bought the animal tranquilizer ketamine, which produces a feeling of euphoria in humans and is a controlled substance.
During the two-year investigation, dubbed Operation Beach Boys, investigators tracked 66 separate sales of controlled substances. There were allegedly other illegal transactions including the sale of three handguns: a .22-caliber Baretta automatic, a .25-caliber Baretta automatic and a .22-caliber revolver, which had the serial number removed. In total, $147,000 in cash was seized along with 10 luxury cars, four rifles, and three handguns.
Prosecutors allege that the crews sold cocaine for up to $1,200 an ounce, marijuana for up to $3,800 a pound, Ecstasy tablets for up to $10 each, Vicodin tablets for up to $5 each and vials of ketamine for $75. They allege the crew sold drugs in the neighborhood and sold Ecstasy at clubs in Manhattan. They also allege that members of the drug crew all earned between $500,000 and $1 million per year.
During the investigation, prosecutors from the DA’s Narcotics Investigation Bureau obtained court-ordered eavesdropping warrants, which enabled investigators to monitor telephone conversations among members of the drug crews.
Brown commended the investigators’ work and condemned the hedonistic lifestyle of the suspects.
“These were a bunch of young kids, mob wannabes hanging around Gold’s Gym, living at home but living large and driving expensive cars. The investigation took us 26 months, and required a lot of effort, a lot of manpower and a lot of dedication,” he said.
Kelly also praised the Police Department officers who worked undercover and became friends with the defendants in order to crack the case. “These groups dealt in a wide variety of drugs, and could move large quantities. They had money and status, and seemed to get away with anything. Today these men are behind bars. Their days of drug dealing are over. Their crews have been wiped out. I want to commend the undercover officers who once again put their lives on the line to keep us all safe,” he said.
Richard Resk, a 46-year resident of Howard Beach, said he was happy the drug ring was shut down and objected to recent reports in the media which portrayed the neighborhood as complacent with mob activity in the area. “Everyone in Howard Beach is not a gangster, and we don’t have this deep respect for gangsters. Just because John Gotti lived here doesn’t mean we supported John Gotti. It is ridiculous.”
Resk also said he was happy the Police Department made the area safe for his 14 grandchildren.