Lower East Side Drug Ring Busted in Wake of Cop Shooting
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Even though the cop shooter remains at large, the undercover operation led by officer Groves at 64 Essex Street last summer still resulted in the dissolution of a Lower East Side drug ring. As reported last week, the gun fired in the stairwell if the 23rd floor was purchased in another sting with said drug group, referred to simply as the “Organization.” Thirteen of its members were simultaneously charged with one count of conspiring to distribute, and possess with “intent to distribute, cocaine, crack cocaine and oxycodone from about 2007 up to about December 2012.”
64 Essex – the Seward Park Extension housing complex – was apparently one of three participant buildings from which the Organization operated. Here’s more from the Manhattan District Attorney website:
Since at least 2007, the Organization has operated primarily in and around the buildings at 154 Broome Street, 410 Grand Street and 64 Essex Street in Manhattan (the “Lower East Side buildings”). The Organization was run by RICHARD FRANCO, who directed, managed or otherwise supervised members and associates of the Organization – including LAZARUS FRANCO, LATWON GARCIA, DAMIEN GIRDNER, FUQUAN JONES, GEORGE LAURIANO, JOHN LAURIANO, JASON ROSARIO, KENNETH SIDERS, ISMAEL SIDIBE, RASHEEN SMITH, JOSE VALETTE, and LUKE WOOLFOLK. The members and associates conducted hand-to-hand transactions of cocaine, crack cocaine, and oxycodone pills in the Lower East Side buildings and the surrounding area. During at least some of these transactions, the Organization members carried firearms.
The investigation into the Organization began after the July 2012 shooting of NYPD Officer Brian Groves who was performing a patrol of the stairway of 64 Essex Street when he observed an individual holding a gun on the 23rd floor staircase landing. The individual turned and ran down the stairs, and when Officer Groves pursued and confronted him, the individual shot one bullet into Officer Groves. He survived.
As part of the investigation, two undercover NYPD officers made approximately 25 buys of cocaine and crack cocaine from various members of the Organization. In September 2012, the undercover officers bought a gun from a member of the Organization that, based on ballistics analysis, is the same gun that was used to shoot Officer Groves.