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Family-run drug trafficking ring operating out of park in Jamaica dismantled: DA

Dec. 14, 2023 By Bill Parry

A family-run drug trafficking ring that was operating out of a park in Jamaica, Queens was dismantled following a 15-month investigation, District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday.

More than 10,000 glassines of heroin were recovered along with 250 vials of crack cocaine during court-authorized searches. Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

The sprawling drug trafficking operation, which was run by a family doing business in Queens to Westchester County, was taken down earlier this month after law enforcement officials executed search warrants at seven homes following a series of undercover drug buys at a park in Jamaica. Authorities also wiretapped the defendants’ phones and searched three vehicles.

The busts took place on Dec. 4 and 5 after cops searched houses in Queens, Yonkers and Suffolk County, resulting in the seizure of one and a half kilograms laced with fentanyl; more than 10,000 glassines of heroin; four kilograms of cocaine; more than 250 vials of crack cocaine; eight guns, including an assault weapon stashed in a hidden compartment in a storage shed; and $140,587 in cash.

Eleven defendants were charged on drugs and weapons charges, with six arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on Dec. 7 and five arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Dec.6.

According to the charges, in August 2022, a joint investigation by the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD’s Queens South Violent Crimes Squad was launched into a drug trafficking ring operating out of Major Mark Park on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. Undercover cops made a total of 26 buys of heroin and cocaine with four of the defendants, resulting in the seizure of drugs with a street value of $4,030. All of the heroin contained some fentanyl.

The sprawling drug ring ran an open-air market in Jamaica’s Major Mark Park. QNS file photo

During the course of the investigation, dubbed “One The Mark,” multiple communications among the defendants were recorded on wiretaps discussing the purchase, sale and possession of drugs, possession and supply of firearms, and various acts of violence perpetrated by one of the defendants in order to protect their operation.

The defendants include ringleader James “Pops” Andrews, 50, who supplied the crew with heroin and cocaine packaged by his wife and co-defendant Rose Andrews, 60, at their Brentwood, LI home, according to the charges.

Andrews also employed his girlfriend, 41-year-old Tanta Jones, who was arrested for allegedly packaging narcotics in a Rochdale Village apartment they shared, according to the charges.

He also employed his brothers Taron “T-Black” Samuels, 49, of Rochdale Village and Dijon “D-Black” Andrews, 38, of Jamaica, who assisted in the operation by working shifts at Major Mark Park.

Marcus “TI” Kelly, 46, of Jamaica, is accused of controlling the drug sales in the park while Anton Johnson, 61, of Jamaica, worked shifts at the park and allegedly sold drugs to undercover police officers. Yemi Blair, 50, of Brentwood, allegedly served as the primary cocaine supplier for Andrews.

A probe by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service intercepted multiple packages of cocaine delivered to Blair at locations around New York including a daycare center in Queens. Approximately eight kilograms of cocaine were seized.

Robert Luis Marte-Florencio, 25, of the Bronx, allegedly delivered heroin and fentanyl to Andrews. He was arrested by NYPD detectives on Aug. 23 outside the Rochdale Village housing complex as he was allegedly on his way to deliver narcotics to Andrews. Approximately one kilogram of heroin mixed with fentanyl was recovered.

“Those who peddle poison are on notice,” Katz said. “There is no higher priority for my office than to rid our communities of drugs and guns. This type of ‘family business’ will simply not pay. We will not relent in our efforts to dismantle trafficking rings and bring to justice those who put countless lives at risk by running open-air markets.”

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced that a family-run drug trafficking ring was dismantled following a 15-month investigation. File photo by Mark Hallum

Andrews was arraigned on a 61-count indictment charging him with conspiracy, operating as a major trafficker, criminal possession of a controlled substance and weapons charges. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years to life in prison. His wife Rose is charged with drug and weapons charges and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Marcus Kelly was arraigned on a 61-count indictment charging him with operating as a major trafficker, conspiracy and drug and weapons charges. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

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