Peekskill Police Chief Eric Johansen believes today's multi-agency drug bust said a lot about the way his department plans to deal with issues of drugs and violence in the city.
“These arrests send a clear message that drugs and violence are not tolerated anywhere in Peekskill, Johansen said. "Our narcotics unit worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Westchester County Police to break up this violent drug ring. Our department will continue to set a high standard of performance and excellence to protect all of our citizens and businesses now and in years to come.”
Two separate indictments and two complaints charging 17 people with a series of crimes, including the distribution of narcotics and the use of firearms in Peekskill, were unsealed today. Fifteen of the defendants charged in the indictments and one of the complaints were either arrested today or were previously taken into custody.
Fourteen of those defendants were presented in White Plains federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa M. Smith. The 15th defendant, Kenyata Burnett, is in state custody, and is expected to appear in White Plains federal court next week. The two remaining defendants, Paul Lockett and Phillip Guzman, are still at large.
The indictments allege that Lorenzo Wagner Jr., led a drug trafficking organization in Peekskill whose members and associates have sold crack cocaine and heroin since January 2008.
From 2011to 2012, the group allegedly operated out of the Dunbar Heights housing complex in Peekskill. The apartments were used to cook crack cocaine and to package, store, and resell drugs. At other times, the Organization operated out of other locations in Peekskill.
Wagner allegedly ordered multiple shootings against rivals. These shootings were carried out by the organization’s enforcers, including associates of the organization who were paid to commit acts of violence against rivals.
The following gang members and associates were charged with conspiring to distribute, and possessing with intent to distribute, crack cocaine and heroin from January 2008 to March 2013.
- Lorenzo Wagner, Jr., age 29
- Stefano DiMicheli, age 25
- Phillip Guzman, age 28
- James Patterson, age 27
- Marquise Roberson, age 24
- Juan Urena, age 23
- Lorenzo Wagner, Sr., age 48
- Myron Wagner, age 19
Wagner, Jr. and Patterson are also charged with using, carrying, possessing, and discharging firearms during the narcotics conspiracy. Guzman is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Seven other Peekskill residents are named in a second indictment. Lamar Kingwood, 34; Jamel Bailey, 33; Melissa Dabbs, 43; and Isaac Mallory, 33; were charged with conspiring to distribute and possessing with intent to distribute, crack cocaine and heroin from January 2008 to March 2013.
Tyron Brickhouse, 28; Kenyata Burnett, 37; and Ronald Carter, 47; were charged with conspiring to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, crack from at least November 2010 to March 2013.
Two other individuals—Hakim Anderson, 33, and Paul Lockett, 32,—were charged in separate Complaints with conspiring to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, crack cocaine.
“Even small towns like Peekskill are not immune from the narcotics trade and the violence with which it is inextricably linked," said Preet Bharara, U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY. "With today’s charges against these 17 defendants who were allegedly responsible for visiting this plague on the community, we are taking an important step forward in returning Peekskill to its law-abiding residents.”
Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth stated: “The Department of Public Safety remains firmly committed to working with all federal and local law enforcement partners to combat drug dealing in Westchester County. The Peekskill community is safer today because of the outstanding work of all of the agencies involved in this investigation.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos stated: “Drug trafficking and the gun violence that inevitably comes with it are not only big-city problems. As this case and others have shown, these twin problems affect smaller cities and towns as well. The residents of all these communities have the right to safety and security in their homes, and we will continue to work to make that a reality.”
Fifteen men are being arraigned today in federal court after a 2-year investigation by the FBI into a drug-trafficking ring centered in and around Peekskill.
The men were mostly selling crack and heroin, according to the indictments released today by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The leaders also ordered shootings and other acts of violence against rivals to try to control the local drug trade, according to the indictment. Three are facing firearms charges.
"For a period of time the Organization operated out of apartments in the Dunbar Heights housing complex in Peekskill," the indictment said. "Organization members and associates used those apartments to cook crack cocaine and to package, store and resell crack and heroin."
During the investigation, which started in 2011, federal agents, Westchester County and Peekskill police officers used recordings and controlled purchases to build the chain of evidence, according to the indictments.
Named defendants in the indictments unsealed today are:
- Lorenzo Wagner, Jr.
- Stefano DiMicheli
- Phillip Guzman
- James Patterson
- Marquise Roberson
- Juan Urena
- Lorenzo Wagner, Sr.
- Myron Wagner
- Lamar Kingwood
- Jamel Bailey
- Melissa Dabbs
- Isaac Mallory
- Tyrone Brickhouse
- Kenyata Burnett
- Ronald Carter