Gang Members Arrested and
JOHN P. GILBRIDE, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Field Division and GLENN T. SUDDABY, United States Attorney announced that twenty nine (29) Albany men and one (1) Albany woman were charged in a federal indictment unsealed on October 13, 2006. Twenty-five (25) were charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering activity and all thirty (30) were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack cocaine) and marijuana. The Indictment alleges that twenty-five(25) defendants were members of, and conducted racketeering activity through, a criminal organization known as the Jungle Junkies gang. The Indictment further alleges that the gang has operated within the City of Albany from at least 1999 through the present. The 25 defendants were charged with conspiring to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity which includes multiple acts of drug trafficking, robbery and attempted murder.
The indictment further alleges that members of the Jungle Junkies Gang:(1) maintain control over a specific geographic territory known as the Arbor Hill section of the City of Albany, within which they and their associates conduct their primary income producing venture, which is the distribution of crack cocaine and marijuana; (2) protect their narcotics distribution territory with violence if necessary, including physical assaults and shooting; (3) possess and engage in acts of violence with firearms, including robberies and shooting of rival gang members and associates; (4) share firearms to protect the gang’s geographic territory and retaliate against rival gang members; (5) participate in the production of music CDs, videotapes and DVDs that communicate their violent methods an warn of their intentions to commit violence and retaliate for violent acts committed upon their own members; and (6) utilize telephones and written correspondence to communicate, conduct gang related business and update each other on the status of the Jungle Junkies and members of rival gangs.
The charges carry maximum penalties of imprisonment for life, supervised release for life, and a fine of $4,000,000, and statutory minimum penalties of imprisonment for ten (10) years and supervised release for five (5) years. If convicted, the defendants with prior drug felony convictions face statutory minimum penalties of imprisonment for twenty (20) years and supervised release for ten (10) years.
Law enforcement authorities arrested fifteen (15) defendants at various locations in the Albany area early in the morning on October 13, 2006. Thirteen (13) defendants were previously incarcerated. One (1) defendant is on pretrial release from another pending federal charge. One (1) defendant-Lajuan Morales-remains at large.
Searches were conducted by the authorities at four locations in the City of Albany. Among the items of evidence seized were quantities of cash totaling approximately $4,000; drug paraphernalia, including packaging materials; and gang related material, including photographs, videos, CDs, clothing and gang related correspondence.
This prosecution resulted from a joint investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the City of Albany Police Department; the Albany County Sheriff’s Department; the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department; the New York Stat Department of Corrections; the New York State Division of Parole; and the New York State Police, with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office; the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office; the Town of Guilderland Police Department; the Town of Bethlehem Police Department; and the City of Cohoes Police Department.
John P. Gilbride, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration stated, "Today's indictments and arrests have made Arbor Hill a safer community in which to live. The individuals indicted and arrested were responsible for infesting our community with more than cocaine and crack. They instilled fear in our citizens by intimidation and violence. The DEA stands with our Federal and Local counterparts, confident that we have dismantled this dangerous drug organization and have made our streets safer for our children.”
U.S. Attorney Suddaby praised the outstanding cooperative efforts of the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participated in this investigation and prosecution. U.S. Attorney Suddaby noted that his Office will continue to work closely with the local Gang Task Force and the law enforcement participants in Project Safe Neighborhoods and Operation IMPACT to investigate and prosecute gangs which engage in gun violence, narcotics trafficking, and other criminal activity throughout the Northern District of New York.
William G. McMahon, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated that “ATF’s primary concern is the safety of our citizens. By removing these violent gang members from the streets of Albany, we can reclaim our neighborhoods so our children can enjoy their freedom without fear of injury. ATF and our Project Safe Neighborhood partners will strive to make our streets safer by targeting these violent armed gangs and putting their vicious members in prison. That being said, ATF remains steadfast and vigilant in tackling these violent gangs here in Albany and across America and we will take this fight wherever it leads us.”
Albany Police Chief James W. Tuffey state, “This coordinated law enforcement effort eliminates a network of crime that includes narcotic sales, gang activity and gun violence that has afflicted areas o Arbor Hill for far too long. This is a prime example of the success members of law enforcement can have when agencies from federal, state and local jurisdictions work together, utilizing their vast resources to target this violent criminal activity. Ia m committed to work with every law enforcement agency and continue with a long term, consistent approach to suppress and deter drug activity, gangs and violence in every neighborhood in the City of Albany.”
Mayor Gerald D. Jenning said, “I applaud this successful investigation and personally would like to thank every agency for their participation. The arrests and elimination of these criminals from our community will hopefully be felt by the good people that live in the Arbor Hill neighborhood. Providing safe streets and safe neighborhoods for all of our citizens to live in is vital to the continued revitalization of the City of Albany and Public Safety will always be my top priority. I hope this sends a clear message, regardless of what group or gang these individuals are associated with or what neighborhood they are based in, that this criminal activity will not be tolerated.
Acting Commissioner Lucian J. Leclaire, Jr. of the Department of Correctional Services said, “The unsealed indictments demonstrate our commitment to maintaining order in our prisons and on our streets. Through interagency cooperation, we’ve successfully established that we will not tolerate crime.”
Jack Mahar, Rensselaer County Sheriff stated, “The success of this operation is a good example of what can be accomplished when agencies work together sharing information and resources.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard S. Hartunian and Carlos A. Moreno.