33 Busted At 'Open Air Drug Market'
Criminal charges were filed against six locals last week, and 27 others were charged with drug-related offenses following a six-month undercover operation at what Queens District Attorney Richard Brown is terming "an open air drug market" in and around the Hammel Houses, a public housing complex centering on Beach 84 Street.
The defendants are charged with selling crack and powered cocaine and marijuana to undercover narcotics officers from the Queens Narcotics Unit on 18 separate occasions over a six-month period, all in and around the Hammel Houses.
Brown said that a number of the sales were made near St. Rose of Lima School on Beach 84 Street and in front of the Hammel Day Care Center at Beach 82 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
The drug sweep was the third in the past year, two of them focusing on the fourteen-building Hammels complex, which houses nearly 1,900 residents in 712 apartments.
Brown said, "This initiative is yet another step in our continuing campaign to stop drug dealing and drug related violence in Rockaway. These arrests underscore our commitment to continue to work to improve the quality of life for the residents. [The recent] arrests should be a welcome relief to the many residents of the Hammel Houses, who have been plagued with illegal drug trafficking near their homes and schools."
Brown said that those arrested are part of a loosely-knit group of independent drug dealers who descended on the housing complex and who operated "an open air drug market."
In addition to the arrests, officers from the NYPD and the DA's Narcotic's Squad executed ten court-authorized search warrants in the complex, and recovered various quantities of drugs and ammunition.
Those indicted, all from Rockaway and the majority from the Hammel Houses, include: David Sweezer, 21; Joseph Nerys, 54; Donald Spellman, 17; Lamont Davis, 43; and Stella Stokes, 43.
Those who received criminal court complaints, all of whom live in the Hammel Houses, include: Christina Ciercwierz, 32; Jeanae Clifton, 23; Maria Cruz, 18; Sharifa Davis, 35; Nicole Debouse, 29; Martha Eastman, 34; Joseph Favor, 23; Ramona Hannah, 37; Carrie Hardwick, 30; Stanley Jackson, 53; Jennifer Jimenez, 25; Lamaine Johnson, 34; Burnell Lopez, 45; Guillermon Marteli, 47; Teotilo Ramos, 49; Dorothy Rembert, 61; Robert Rivera, 37; Manuel Rodriquez, 26; Aretha Rushing, 46; Edwin Salgado, 51; Donald Spellman, 17; Wade Spurgeon, 30; James Stephens, 29; Rahim Sutton, 32; Shakim Thompson, 19; Monica Turner, 19; Omar Walker; 21 and Anthony Williams, 35.
The defendants are variously charged with numerous counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, a Class C Felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison; criminal sale of marijuana; criminal possession of a controlled substance; criminally using drug paraphernalia; unlawful possession of marijuana; and disorderly conduct.