One arrest at Baruch Houses, but raid may have been a bust

By Patrick Hedlund

A drug raid by a force of police officers on the Lower East Side late last month led to a just small-time bust after police swarmed a building in the Baruch Houses complex during the early-morning hours, according to local residents and law enforcement officials.

Police, reportedly armed with battering rams and with a canine unit, conducted the operation at 130 Columbia St. on Wed., Aug. 29, that included the seizure of unidentified evidence and the arrest of one male suspect, a department spokesperson confirmed.

A Baruch Houses resident who lives nearby, but asked to remain anonymous for safety concerns, reported observing at least seven to eight unmarked police vehicles outside the building and approximately a dozen police officers who entered the address together at around 6 a.m.

According to the resident and police records, law enforcement at the scene led a coordinated search of the building’s 12th floor, eventually removing one man from the building in handcuffs. Police spokesperson Detective Kevin Czartoryski identified him as Rory C. Duncan, 30.

However, police would not confirm that the sweep was drug-related and only said that Duncan had been arrested and charged with second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors.

A source from the narcotics division of Patrol Borough Manhattan South acknowledged that there were “definitely major operations taking place in those [Baruch] houses,” but would not elaborate further due to ongoing investigative work.

Nicky Teo, community affairs officer with the Seventh Precinct, which covers the Baruch Houses, confirmed that a search warrant had been conducted at the scene that morning. He also noted that the use of battering rams is a typical precaution taken during the execution of such warrants, but could not verify the nature of the operation as narcotics-related.

According to the anonymous resident, police at the scene initially commented that the investigation involved a major bust, but didn’t cite any specific criminal activity related to the operation.

Duncan’s case has been sealed, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, indicating that the charges likely were dismissed.