You are reading

21 Suspects Busted for Drug and Gun Trafficking in Far Rockaway: Queens DA

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz with the NYPD at a press briefing Wednesday (Photo provided by the Queens District Attorney’s Office)

July 1, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

A large criminal network of drug dealers and gun traffickers have been busted for operating an illegal scheme in a Far Rockaway housing development – and surrounding Queens areas.

Twenty-one suspects, including an MTA worker, were arrested and indicted by a Queens County grand jury Wednesday and variously charged with flooding the Redfern Houses with cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

Some of the heroin the crew peddled was packaged in glassine envelopes and stamped in red with the words “King of Death” along with a photo of the Grim Reaper.

The defendants also terrorized the neighborhood with illegal firearms while one of the alleged drug dealers was shot and killed coming out of the housing development, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office. The murder of victim Ernest Thomas is still under investigation.

“Drugs and guns have been a toxic combination for far too long, made so by individual drivers of crime,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said at a press briefing with the NYPD yesterday.

“My office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to make certain no community is held hostage to those who seek to profit from human misery.”

Cops took down the criminal enterprise following a 15-month long operation – beginning in November 2019 – which consisted of wiretaps and a string of undercover operations.

Investigators discovered the ring after eavesdropping on the cell phone communications of Antoine Nance, who had been discussing narcotics and firearms with many of the defendants, Katz said.

Nance, 35, of Alameda Avenue in Far Rockaway, was allegedly being supplied drugs by Kimiko Leonard, 34, a female conductor with the MTA who resides in Jamaica.

Some of the items confiscated in the raids (Photo provided by the Queens District Attorney’s Office)

According to the charges, the pair allegedly used code words to set up drug deals with Nance texting Leonard that he “needed a ride to 200 Street,” which actually meant he wanted to buy 200 grams of cocaine.

The surveillance of Nance then led investigators to Kasson Brown, who is accused of being a top supplier of cocaine and heroin in the area.

Brown 32, of Beach 19th Street in Far Rockaway, used runners to sell the deadly drugs on the streets to avoid detection from the police.

However, one of Brown’s paid runners was introduced to an undercover officer who was acting as a drug buyer. When the “buyer” wanted to make a purchase, the undercover officer would allegedly reach out to Brown to get heroin or cocaine from one of his runners.

Tests on some of the confiscated heroin supplied by Brown’s runners revealed a mix of heroin, fentanyl and tramadol. At times, tests showed the substance was pure fentanyl, officials said.

Jason Bernadotte, a 20-year-old from the Redfern Houses, was identified as one of Brown’s alleged street runners.

During a search of Bernadotte’s home on Sep. 29, 2020, police allegedly recovered 117 glassine envelopes containing a mix of heroin, fentanyl and tramadol. There were also 65 ‘twists’ of cocaine found.

The home of Redfern Houses resident Sekou Santiago, 32, was also raided by police. Cops recovered a Glock pistol, a high-capacity magazine, a loaded magazine, a laser sight, 114 grams of heroin and fentanyl and 269 grams of cocaine.

The 21 defendants are variably charged with the criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy, weapons charges and other crimes. If convicted, some of the suspects face up to 30 years in prison.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said that the NYPD and the Queens DA Office are determined to keep the streets safe for all residents.

“This investigation highlights our joint responsibilities in eradicating shootings, illegal firearms and the violence of the narcotics trade that tear at the fabric of life in our city.

Meanwhile, Meredith Daniels, a spokesperson for the MTA described the charges against Leonard as “serious and disturbing.”

“New York City Transit fully cooperated with authorities and following the indictment the employee has been taken out of service.

Some of the items confiscated in the raids (Photo provided by the Queens District Attorney’s Office)

email the author:
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Five Queens startups win $20,000 each in 2024 Tech + Innovation Challenge

May. 19, 2024 By Czarinna Andres

A diverse range of businesses, including a yoga studio, an olive oil distributor, a female health care provider, a sustainable mushroom farmer, and an AI-powered physical therapy service, have been named winners of the 2024 Queens Tech + Innovation Challenge (QTIC). Each winner will receive a $20,000 grant to support their business operations.

City hosting walking tours at the new Arverne East Nature Preserve in the Rockaways on Sunday

This Sunday, May 19, the city is conducting walking tours of the newly opened Arverne East Nature Preserve in the Rockaways to showcase the 35-acre beachfront jewel developed on a formerly vacant illegal dumping ground on Beach 44th Street in Edgemere.

The tours, hosted by the Department of City Planning (DCP), NYC Parks, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), will allow participants to explore the preserve’s diverse ecosystem. The large preserve is a component of the upcoming Arverne East housing development, which, when completed, will be one of the most environmentally conscious developments in the United States, achieving net zero and eliminating the need for fossil fuels on-site.

QBP Richards, advocates rally to demand Mayor Adams restore funding to City’s libraries

May. 17, 2024 By Gabriele Holtermann

A rally was held at the Queens Public Library at Forest Hills on May 16, during which Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott, union reps and library advocates called on Mayor Eric Adams to reverse the proposed $58.3 million budget cuts to the New York Public Library (NYPL), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and the Queens Public Library (QBL) for Fiscal Year 2025, which begins on July 1, 2024.

Queens elected officials secure $70 million from New York State Budget for school safety equipment in religious and independent schools

May. 17, 2024 By Anthony Medina

Religious and independent schools throughout the city will soon receive additional funding for school safety equipment, thanks to Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and State Senator Michael Gianaris, who, after extensive advocacy efforts, successfully secured $70 million from the New York State Budget for 2024-25 for Non-Public School Safety Equipment (NPSE) grants.