Inwood Gang Bust ‘Kingpin’ Pleads Not Guilty, Held Without Bail

January 5, 2017

The 21 members of an Inwood Street gang arrested during an NYPD sting have pleaded not guilty and will be held pending bail hearings, which begin Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney.

The alleged gang members were arrested in a sweep Wednesday and are accused of selling crack cocaine in building lobbies and gated entrances of residential buildings on Vermilyea Avenue between West 204th and West 207th streets the DA said. In total, 32 people were charged but 11 were able to evade arrest Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office told Patch.

Police and prosecutors have singled out two brothers — 44-year-old Jose Luperon and 42-year-old Omar Luperon — who they say served as the gang’s ringleaders. The brothers have been charged with “operating as a major trafficker” — also known as the “drug kingpin” statute, according to the DA.

Prosecutors named three other defendants as top-level members in the gang — Juan Flores, 35, Steve Rojas, 34 and Xavier Vargas, 29. Flores served as a supervisor along with the Luperon brothers; Rojas and Vargas served as lower-level managers who oversaw the gang’s seven street dealers and 15 “steerers,” the DA charges. They were in charge of conducting street-level purchases, steering customers to drug sales, stashing drugs and acting as lookouts, according to the DA.


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“These arrests shutter an alleged criminal organization that pumped narcotics into a quiet residential neighborhood 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said Wednesday.

Wednesday’s indictment was the result of a longterm investigation into Inwood’s drug trafficking. Police wiretapped suspects’ phones and bought drugs from them while posing as customers, according to the DA. The trafficking ring is believed to have operated from Aug. 29, 2015, to Dec. 26, 2016. Its members worked in shifts to sell drugs 24 hours per day on Vermilyea Avenue, during which time they made more than 100 crack cocaine sales, the DA said.


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Defense attorneys will ask for bail on Jan. 6 and Jan 13, 2017, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office told Patch.

Click here for a full list of the 32 accused gangsters and what they have been charged with.

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