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Monday, October 13, 2008

NYPD Cops Eyed in Drug Crimes

NYPD cops eyed in 100 East Coast robberies of cash, coke from dealers
The New York Daily News by JOHN MARZULLI AND ALISON GENDAR - October 13, 2008

Two NYPD cops - one active and one retired - are under suspicion as part of a violent crew accused of robbing drug dealers and kidnapping and sexually torturing some of their victims. The two unnamed officers wore uniforms when they acted as "cops" in a crew that shook down dealers for more than 100 kilos of cocaine in at least 100 robberies along the East Coast, sources said. The real cops changed their collar brass so they would not be wearing the number of their actual NYPD precinct when they betrayed their badges, sources said. The crew would kidnap their victims either in a police-style car stop or in a home invasion. The car-stop victims were taken at gunpoint to a remote area, where the robbers demanded to know the location of their cash and drugs, which they resold in New York. 

The cops worked with defendants Jose Castro and Asnel Torres, who "applied a pair of pliers to the victim's testicles, threatening to squeeze the pliers if the victim did not talk," prosecutors said. A spokesman for the NYPD declined to comment Sunday. A dozen members of the crew have already been named in federal indictments in Brooklyn. But during a Sept. 16 hearing before Brooklyn Federal Judge Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Goldbarg said she intends to file a superseding indictment, a move promising additional charges and the arrest of the two cops. Most of the brazen attacks occurred in Queens, upper Manhattan and the Bronx in the past five years. The crew also targeted drug dealers in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. The crew used tipsters and surveillance to find their targets, and sometimes followed their victims for weeks to learn their daily routine, according to court documents. They allegedly came for the crimes equipped with guns, handcuffs, duct tape, police lights and sirens.

The NYPD has been stung by a series of scandals involving cops turned crooks. Five Brooklyn South narcotics detectives have been indicted in a corruption probe amid allegations they used seized drugs to pay off informants. The probe prompted a shakeup of NYPD narcotics brass. Retired 33-year veteran Detective Athelston Kelson was busted in August for robbing banks in Queens and Long Island. In both cases, NYPD brass said the problems were isolated lapses.

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