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Press Release | NO. 2003-008

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Press Release # 008
Thursday, January 30, 2003

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly And Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes Announce 25 Arrests In Major Takedown Of Drug Ring In Coney Island

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced 25 arrests as part of the takedown of a major drug organization based in the Ocean Towers housing development in Coney Island. The arrests mark the culmination of "Operation Ocean Towers," a 10-month undercover investigation into the illegal narcotics trade in Coney Island. All but two of those arrested are charged with conspiracy and face 25 years to life in prison. Police Commissioner Kelly said: "Once again, our undercover investigators have done outstanding work in uprooting a dangerous group of criminals. The people we arrested worked together to supply crack and cocaine to the Ocean Towers community. They intimidated their neighbors and they were responsible for numerous robberies and other crimes in the area. By putting them in prison and dismantling their illegal enterprise, we have restored a sends of peace and security to the more than 1,000 people who live there."

District Attorney Hynes said, "The combined forces of the NYPD and the Kings Country District Attorney's Office will always be vigilant toward criminals involved in drug trafficking. These particular drug gangs worked together. They completely controlled the inside and the outside of this housing development. They intimidated the community, forcing residents to stay in their homes out of fear. We will not tolerate these illegal activities nor allow the residents of Ocean Towers to have to live in fear any longer."

"Operation Ocean Towers" began in March 2002. Detectives in the Brooklyn South Narcotics Division noticed a sharp increase in complaints of drug dealing in and around the Ocean Towers housing development in Coney Island. When they attended a Ocean Towers Tenant Association meeting and asked the group about any problems involving drug sales, many of the tenants were reluctant to speak openly. The detective handed out a phone number, and within days they received numerous calls about the rise in illegal narcotics. The New York City Police Department responded immediately by launching the undercover operation.

From March 2002 to January 2003, undercover detectives made 81 buys of crack and powder cocaine. They penetrated the inner ring of the drug gang that operated at Ocean Towers, and then identified and bought illegal narcotics from 29 key people. They estimated that the group sold about $1,200,000 of crack and cocaine a year. They also bought five illegal firearms. Most of the buys were captured on video. These images not only provided sufficient evidence for the arrest warrants, but also supported charges of conspiracy, which is punishable by up to 25 years to life in prison.

Many of those arrested have extensive crime records, including manslaughter, armed robbery, and assault. Some of these include: Jamar Miller, 20, who served 18 months in prison for manslaughter; Ramel Fernandez, 21, who served four months in prison for assault; and, Glen Warren, 44, who has been charged with armed robbery and assault.

Police arrested two major suppliers: Warren Faison, 35, who was the main supplier of crack to all of Coney Island; and James Opharrow, 24, who was one of the main suppliers of crack to Ocean Towers, and served as a teacher's assistant at M.S. 88 in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Detectives also arrested James Murray, 37, who worked for the private security firm that guarded the Ocean Towers' community as the lieutenant supervisor of the night shift.

During the takedown, in which seven search warrants were executed, police confiscated three vehicles, a stun-gun, a bulletproof vest, and more than 1,000 twists of crack worth an estimated street value of $10,000.

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