Jamaican Narcotics Gang Toppled
NEW YORK (AP) _ Hundreds of federal and local agents dismantled an ″absolutely vicious″ gun-running, murdering Jamaican narcotics ring in overnight raids in New York and Texas, the FBI said Friday.
Residents of the Brooklyn neighborhood where the group - called the Gulleymen Posse - was headquartered greeted the raiders as a liberating army, authorities said.
James M. Fox, head of the FBI New York office, estimated that the gang took in more than $100 million in the last five years and carried out at least 10 murders on orders of its leader, Eric Vassell.
The raids were conducted at several sites in Brooklyn, and in Hempstead, Uniondale and Albany, and in Dallas.
Vassell escaped arrest and was believed to be in the New York area. Eighteen of 42 alleged posse members were arrested. If convicted, all face life in prison on narcotics conspiracies and racketeering charges that include murder, said Andrew J. Maloney, the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn. They also are accused of money laundering and obtaining fraudulent passports and green cards.
Besides the suspects, the raiders seized more than $150,000 in cash, six buildings and 15 guns.
The case was broken with information provided by several gang members now serving life sentences on guilty pleas to various crimes, including murder, Maloney said.
″Among their own, they were vicious, absolutely vicious,″ Fox said. ″This guy Vassell would kill his own people for a serious reason or for a trivial reason. He killed someone because that person said something nasty to his sister.″
Maloney described Vassell as a 31-year-old Jamaican who has fathered 14 to 18 children by various women and has ties to the ruling People’s National Party in Jamaica.
Vassell ″used part of his money to contribute to the PNP and it’s very likely he’ll flee back to Jamaica hoping for some kind of protection there,″ Maloney said.
″Every time Vassell returned to Jamaica, he took a lot of television sets and he usually had three or four guns stashed inside of each set,″ Fox said.
In the complaint filed by Maloney’s office, an informant is quoted as saying that guns shipped to Jamaica inside TV sets in February were ″vote- getters″ to be used in a runoff on the island.
″Whenever there is a major event in Jamaica ... Vassell sends a shipment of guns,″ the complaint said.
Maloney told reporters he was not alleging that Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley knew what was Vassell was doing.
Federal officials said the Gulleymen Posse got its name from the McGregors Gully section of Kingston, where its members were from.
The posse was a heroin wholesaling and distributing operation in Brooklyn during the last decade and branched into crack in the late 1980s, when it expanded to Dallas, officials said.
The posse spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in car rentals to run crack from Brooklyn to Dallas and return with guns every week, the government said.
Fox said posse members offered virtually no resistance when they saw the SWAT teams descend.
He said one of the arrested men said to an agent: ‴You think we are a posse? You 200 cops, that’s a real posse.‴