The NYPD undertook a massive narcotic and firearm bust in the Bronx and Harlem on Wednesday, and amNewYork Metro was there along for the ride.
During the early morning hours on Sept. 8, dozens detectives poured over documents inside a conference room within Detective Borough Manhattan North in Harlem while many more wearing bullet proof vests darted in and out of the room. The final preparations for a large-scale narcotics takedown that has been under investigation since 2018.
According to Deputy Chief Brian McGee, the commanding officer of the Detective Borough Manhattan North detective bureau, the warrants executed Wednesday were the result of years of investigations.
“It’s been a really long investigation that’s been stalled because of COVID and the protests of last year. So, it really comes down to the case investigators, the entire team because that’s how we do things in the police department. It’s a team effort, it’s we not I. The case investigators, the supervisors, the leaders in this and Manhattan North Narcotics, what a tremendous job doing undercover buys—the most dangerous work in the police department. Serious surveillance operations, electronic surveillance, and just really just good hard work and police intelligence. I call them critical thinkers,” McGee said.
No less than 43 acts of violence, including two attempted murders, have been tied to those involved in the drug ring operating throughout the Bronx and Harlem. Over the past 15 to 20 years, police reported, a generation of crime lords overtook these communities, resulting in the manipulation of minors to sell drugs and carry firearms, gun strewn turf wars — with many shootings occurring in broad daylight — and multiple acts of violence.
“They conducted their business mercilessly with no regard for human life and no regard for the members of the community,” said Captain Daniel Campbell, also assigned to Detective Borough Manhattan North. He explained that residents would continuously call 911 and 311 to complain.
Of 43 acts of violence investigated since 2018 in the area, police sources said, 23 of them included individuals tied to this specific investigation. They included a 2019 fatal shooting in which a man was killed by a stray bullet after being caught in the middle of gang-related gunfire.
Cops said residents of the northern Manhattan and southern Bronx communities were forced to live in fear, constantly looking over their shoulder, terrified that a stray bullet may just come their way. One innocent bystander in 2019 was simply walking down the street and was caught in the middle of gunfire, resulting in his death.
As part of their extensive investigation, the Manhattan North Narcotics team utilized undercover officers to infiltrate the crime syndicate, monitoring their operations and gathering information, as well as following electronic surveillance, making arrests along the way, and debriefing each other as they collected intel.
Following the process since before 4 a.m. on Sept. 8, amNewYork Metro rode alongside officers as they suited up for the operation. Gathered at an undisclosed location in Riverdale not far from their target locations, illuminated only by the headlights of their vehicles, McGee thanked his officers for placing themselves in harm’s way for public service.
Then the team members got ready for possible battle, donning helmets and body vests and clutching shields and door rams.
At dawn, amNewYork Metro pulled up to a Bronx residence alongside a team of officers who rushed inside. They announced themselves as police officers, then entered the location.
The team advanced to the second floor where they used drills to gain access to the suspect inside the home. Although the operation was as dramatic as something that could be viewed on the silver screen, its professional execution resulted in all individuals being taken into custody without incident.
Over the course of Wednesday morning, 15 arrests were made at four locations; the individuals were taken to the 25th Precinct on 119th Street and Park Avenue. Officers confiscated two handguns along with large amounts of crack cocaine, wads of cash, and even a medallion worth $200,000 alone.
Officers say they also expect to make even further arrests in the coming days.
Chief McGee believes this successful, two-year investigation will showcase that there is no place for this kind of dangerous crime in New York City.
“I think it will say to gang members that you cannot operate in the City of New York. You can’t do that, and I think the community will feel a little bit safer. I really do believe that,” Chief McGee said. “We are relentless. New York City Police Department, the best police department in the world, the investigators especially here in Manhattan North detectives, we are relentless, and we will never give up. We will always continue. We will find the next one.”
He also emphasized that some may categorize narcotics as a separate situation from the shootings and other acts of violence going on in the city; however, McGee stated these two crimes go hand-in-hand.
“People just think it’s just narcotics, but narcotics always goes to violence and you’ll see that in this organization. There becomes turf wars, one block versus a second block and acts of violence. The important thing to get out there is the gunplay that goes out there, innocent victims get shot. Unfortunately, gang members are shooting other gang members and that’s over turfs or stares—it even comes down to that, but unfortunately, we do have innocent victims that do get shot. It just goes back to the community. That’s the reason why these people need to come off the streets,” Chief McGee said.
For Captain Campbell, the arrests made Wednesday were the culmination of the NYPD’s steadfast teamwork to keep New Yorkers safe.
“Today’s the culmination of a very long-term investigation into a narcotic trafficking crew out of the Sugar Hill section in Harlem. So, the investigation goes back to 2018. Today we conducted four search warrants, which are knock warrants. We conducted them safely, everybody, including the people who were arrested, came out of the locations with no incident. We recovered two firearms. There were 15 people arrested today and there’ll be several other future apprehensions involved in this case,” he said.
The individuals that were arrested have been taken to Central Booking for processing.