Report: 42 arrested in Albany drug sweep

Posted March 27, 2012, at 8:27 p.m.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Police arrested 42 people, including eight gang members, in a crackdown Tuesday on a drug ring based mainly in Albany and extending to nearby cities, the Hudson Valley and Vermont, authorities said.

“This was a ring that primarily supplied other drug dealers,” state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “A lot of these folks had jobs or were in schools, many as a condition of parole. … They were in a position to stay for a long time.”

The attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force led the six-month investigation that included the use of wiretaps. Schneiderman said some defendants were major drug suppliers, with bail sought at amounts up to $750,000.

The investigation was prompted by an increase in gang violence in Albany’s South End, Albany Mayor Gerry Jennings said. City Police Chief Steven Krokoff said continued violence will keep bringing authorities back with these kinds of investigations.

The indictment, unsealed as more than 150 police rounded up suspects before dawn, charged 52 people with drug crimes. Some were still being sought Tuesday afternoon.

According to authorities, they confiscated five handguns and 15 long guns, including semiautomatic rifles. They moved faster than originally planned after suspect Richard Gibbs was gunned down in the South End in November by a rival gang and wiretaps picked up increasing talk about guns and retribution.

Five of those indicted were members of the Original Gangsta Killers, while two of the drug network’s leaders and another man were members of the Bloods, all from Albany, officials said. Those charged range from 20 to 49 years old, with almost half from Albany, nearly a dozen from the Troy area and several from Schenectady. Others are from New York City, Bennington, Vt., Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls and from Saugerties, Kerhonkson, Newburgh, Wawarsing and Poughkeepsie in the Hudson Valley.

Task force investigator Dennis Guiry said 300 grams of heroin were confiscated while wiretaps showed the network was also dealing in cocaine and illegal prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Federal prosecutors charged 25 people in 2009 with drug conspiracy as members or associates of the Original Gangsta Killers from Albany’s South End, charging most with racketeering. In 2006, 30 members and associates of the rival Jungle Junkies from Arbor Hill were indicted. All were convicted.

“It’s not surprising to see some of the same players join up again,” Schneiderman said. “The important thing here, and this represents an evolution in the thinking of law enforcement over the last few decades, is to target a criminal enterprise as an enterprise.”

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