Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, joined by New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, on Saturday announced that two interconnected dangerous and complex illegal enterprises selling drugs and firearms throughout Jamaica, Queens have been dismantled with the nabbing of seven defendants last week and in March.
Two long-term investigations led to a single supplier for both crews that sold drugs in our communities with one gun runner pushing a steady supply of illegal firearms every week.
The main defendants are Steven Campbell, 37, Charles Gillespie, 19, an unnamed defendant, 17, and Javial Davis, 28 – all of Jamaica. The top charges include conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal sale of a firearms.
“I promised the citizens of Queens County that I would go after drug dealers and gun runners to keep our communities safe. Even during this global pandemic, our on-going investigations continued with 11 guns seized and several ounces of cocaine and quantities of fentanyl and heroin taken off our streets. I want to thank the hard work of all the prosecutors within my office, as well as the members of the NYPD’s Gun Violence Suppression Division. Our combined unrelenting efforts will help keep Queens residents safe,” said Katz.
The investigation dubbed Operation Blast Off began in November 2018 and focused on the alleged criminal activity of Campbell, who on several occasions allegedly sold drugs to a buyer who was actually an undercover detective. Meets were set up with this “buyer” at a Queens gym used as cover, with the drug for cash exchange occurring inside a vehicle right outside the business, according to the charges.
Katz said in November 2019, Operation Ace in the Hole commenced and infiltrated a second network of alleged drug traffickers that included running guns. At this time Gillespie, an unnamed defendant and another co-defendant allegedly sold cocaine, heroin and fentanyl. The crew also allegedly sold illegal guns – transported into Jamaica, Queens via weekly deliveries by another co-defendant who allegedly supplied them with narcotics as well.
The separate investigations connected when it became apparent that a suspect of the Operation Blast Off investigation was also the alleged drug supplier to the crew being pursued by Operation Ace law enforcement agents.
Further, said Katz, Gillespie allegedly sold firearms on different occasions to buyers who were actually undercover police between February 5, 2020 and March 16, 2020. Gillespie is charged with selling 6 firearms, multiple high capacity magazines and several rounds of ammunition in other instances to a “buyer” who was an undercover detective. Purchase prices for guns ranged from $500 to $1,100 each.
Gillespie also allegedly reached out to his customer base weekly with offerings of new merchandise from the weekly deliveries.
Law enforcement executed a court-authorized search warrant at the residence of Gillespie and allegedly recovered more than 45 grams of cocaine, cash and a single 9mm bullet. Police also allegedly found the defendant to have in his possession a scale containing cocaine residue, additional cash, 2 cell phones and a twist containing a quantity of cocaine.
Additional court-authorized searches were executed at the homes of Campbell, Chad Taylor, Samuel Wilson and Carlton Powell. Police allegedly recovered 2 grams of cocaine at an apartment on Jamaica Avenue and 36 grams of cocaine from inside a speaker at an apartment on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard.
“These suspects, and the drugs and guns they allegedly peddled, are now off our streets. I want to thank our detectives, working together with our partners in the Queens District Attorney’s Office, for their persistence in carrying out investigations to help keep people safe from crime through this difficult period of time,” said Shea.
At post time, QCP was unable to find out how much jail time the defendents are facing should they be convicted.