City's First Drug Kingpin Charged Under New Law: Fifteen Charged in Operation Cocaine Siesta
MAY 13 -- John P. Gilbride, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division and BRIDGET G. BRENNAN, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor , New York City Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY and New York State Police Acting Superintendent JOHN P. MELVILLE announced today the arrests and indictments of Jose Delorbe and 14 others for their roles in a violent drug organization that sold large quantities of cocaine and heroin in The Bronx for several years. Delorbe, 39, is the first defendant charged in New York City under the state’s new kingpin statute. The statute went into effect in October 2009 and is the only felony narcotics charge that carries a potential life sentence.
DEA Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride stated, “The residents of 1571 Undercliff Avenue in the Bronx deserve to live, work and raise their children without fear. Today these residents and their children are safer than they were yesterday because violent, gun toting, drug slingers have been taken off the streets. These arrests are representative of law enforcement’s commitment to keep our city safe from the violence and crimes associated with drug trafficking.”
Delorbe ran his brazen drug ring from an apartment building that he controlled at 1571 Undercliff Avenue in The Bronx, where he is believed to have sold an average of more than two pounds of cocaine and heroin each day. The organization was dismantled following a seven-month wiretap investigation by the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, Group T-12, which is composed of investigators from the DEA, the New York Police Department and the New York State Police. Investigators seized approximately 13 pounds of cocaine, more than a pound of heroin, approximately $175,000 in cash and two guns belonging to Delorbe and his manager.
Agents arrested Delorbe in his car at approximately 2:30 a.m. yesterday morning after he left a nightclub in Washington Heights . Delorbe’s girlfriend Erifer Gonzalez, his manager Luis Ulerio, a/k/a “Zeta,” and building superintendant Jose Jimenez, a/k/a “The Super,” were among 8 indicted defendants arrested yesterday afternoon and this morning. An additional two indicted defendants were already in custody and four individuals are charged in criminal complaints.
During the investigation, Delorbe was implicated in a shoot-out on Undercliff Avenue in the early morning hours of Nov. 24, 2009. The violence erupted when Delorbe’s crew believed a team of robbers had attempted to break into one the apartments where they stored drugs and/or money. Private surveillance cameras captured one member of Delorbe’s organization firing a hail of bullets down the street. The video also shows the image of a man who appears to be Delorbe holding a handgun as he enters the building immediately after the shooting. While no one was injured, police recovered numerous shells from two different firearms at the scene. In a subsequently recorded phone conversation, Delorbe told an unidentified male that the shooting was in response to a robbery attempt.
Even after the shooting and the resulting police investigation, the drug ring boldly continued to sell drugs out of the same location at 1571 Undercliff Ave. Recorded phone conversations show the group closely monitored law enforcement activity on their block, but were undeterred in continuing to conduct drug transactions despite police presence and a number of arrests that occurred during the investigation.
The Undercliff building, which contains approximately 120 apartments, was the subject of numerous community complaints to police. The narrow, one-way street served as a strategically ideal location for Delorbe to run his organization and allowed look-outs to view each car that entered the block. The nearby Major Deegan Expressway and George Washington Bridge provided easy access to the area for Delorbe’s drug customers, some of whom travelled from Connecticut, while a parking lot across the street from the apartment building accommodated their cars.
At the outset of the investigation, police seized two pounds of cocaine, one pound of heroin and $6,000 cash from a member of the ring, Carlos Munoz, a/k/a “Carlito,” who was charged in November 2009. The following month, two customers from Connecticut were arrested in possession of another two pounds of cocaine. Erifer Gonzalez, 24, was stopped with an additional two pounds of cocaine in January 6, 2010 as she prepared to deliver the drugs to Delorbe.
Yesterday afternoon, investigators executed search warrants at 11 apartments that Delorbe used in 1571 Undercliff Ave. and another three locations in The Bronx. The searches netted over six pounds of cocaine, heroin, approximately $100,000 in cash, a money counter and drug paraphernalia were seized. Two guns were also recovered from Delorbe’s and Ulerio’s apartments.
The kingpin statute (Operating as a Major Trafficker) under which Delorbe is charged took effect in October 2009 as part of the comprehensive drug law reform. It requires that the defendant supervised four or more individuals and collected at least $75,000 from drug sales within a six-month period of time.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan stated, “The indictment puts an end to Jose Delorbe’s reign over 1571 Undercliff Ave. and the surrounding area. It’s appropriate that Delorbe is the first in the city charged as a kingpin, given the large amounts of money changing hands, but more importantly the violence and brazen drug trafficking associated with the group.”
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly stated, “While we work every day to put drug dealers of all description behind bars, the new kingpin law is an especially pointed arrow in our quiver. The members of the Drug Enforcement Task Force are to be commended for helping to restore some measure of peace and safety to the law abiding citizens whom these criminals put at risk.”
The defendants are expected to be arraigned later today in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson’s office is working in coordination with the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the NYPD on drug issues in the apartment building and community outreach efforts.
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.