The Associated Press
NEW YORK- A crew controlled by an offshoot of the notorious Crips street gang made $1 million a year dealing narcotics in and around a cluster of housing projects, sometimes delivering drugs hidden in toy cars and trucks, authorities said Thursday.
An eight-month undercover investigation resulted in charges against 96 people, half of them residents of the housing complexes in Queens. Police had arrested 81 of the suspects; the rest were being sought.
The investigation revealed that the dealers sometimes delivered drugs concealed in the battery compartments of remote-controlled toy cars and trucks, police said. In one instance, a child was used to take drugs to an undercover officer; other times suspects did transactions on school playgrounds.
Prosecutors said several of the suspects were affiliated with the Crips, including one who was charged with shooting and killing a 15-year-old in 2005. They said local Crips crews, known as sets, have proliferated throughout the city's five boroughs.
Authorities consider the investigation "a direct attack on the gang problem in the city," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said at a news conference.
Police launched the probe earlier this year after receiving complaints from residents about the entrenched drug trade.
At one massive complex where 3,369 people live in 1,394 apartments, undercover police narcotics and gang squads made more than 200 purchases of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. They later seized more than 10 pounds of cocaine, several thousand dollars in cash and four guns, including a loaded assault weapon.
The suspects were named in 29 indictments charging them with multiple felony counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance. If convicted, some could face up to 20 years in prison.