39 collared in massive drug- and gun-smuggling bust in Staten Island
39 men and women were arrested in Staten Island in an investigation bringing charges of conspiring to commit murder, attempted murder, possession and sale of illegal firearms, distributing and selling cocaine, stealing motorcycles and burglarizing homes.
The takedown, a joint effort by the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office in Staten Island and the NYPD, is the result of “Operation Mayberry,” so called because one of the defendants goes by the nickname “Opie.”
“But he and the other defendants are nothing like the lovable characters portrayed in the 1960s TV program ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’” said Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. “These 39 individuals are accused of committing crimes and conspiring to commit crimes that would shock and appall Sheriff Taylor.”
Sheriff Andy Taylor was a principal character on “The Andy Griffith Show,” played by Andy Griffith. Mayberry was the fictional town in which he was the sheriff, and Opie was his fictional son, played by Ron Howard.
“Operation Mayberry” spanned 16 months, the D.A. said. Six guns, an array of ammunition, marijuana plants, marijuana, crack cocaine and more than a kilo of cocaine were seized in Staten Island after months of work by undercover police officers and the use of electronic surveillance and in-person surveillance.
Guns were recovered en route from Georgia, and drugs from Mexico, Canada, Texas and Pennsylvania, including 21 kilos of cocaine seized in Loredo, Texas.
Many of the defendants were members of or affiliated with the Bloods gang, according to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
One of the defendants, Clinton James, was shot by Staten Island Gang Squad cops in a gun bust in March when he pinned a detective against another car with his car.
33 out of the 39 arrested defendants are facing felony charges.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat