What was the '24-hour open-air crack bazaar'? 8 booked as NYPD busts Times Square cocaine den

'This crew gave new meaning to the slogan for New York City as the ‘city that never sleeps,' Special Agent Peter Fitzhugh said


                            What was the '24-hour open-air crack bazaar'? 8 booked as NYPD busts Times Square cocaine den
The group of eight who operated the 24-hour crack cocaine ring (NYPD)

TIMES SQUARE, NEW YORK: New York Police Department officials have busted a 24-hour crack-cocaine ring that was operational for over two years. Located at a prime spot like Times Square, the ring reportedly hauled more than $10,000 each week. Six people have been arrested in connection to the racket so far, while two remain at large. The news was shared by NYPD on Tuesday, August 8, on their Twitter portal, where they termed the drug hotbed as a "24-hour open-air bazaar". 

Peter Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations released a statement saying, "This crew gave new meaning to the slogan for New York City as the ‘city that never sleeps,’ by allegedly operating a 24-hour drug distribution ring. Working in shifts nearly around the clock, they preyed on the addictions and vulnerabilities of others." The drug bust involved a two-year-long investigation by NYPD, using an undercover law enforcement officer and surveillance camera footage. Speaking about the successful operation, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said, "Our officers work night and day to keep every corner of New York free from the scourge of illegal narcotics, including in the crossroads of the world." In the past, crack cocaine addiction has affected celebrities like rapper DMX, Mama June Shannon and her boyfriend Geno Doak, among others.

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What was the 24-hour open-air bazaar?

Operated on 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue in Times Square, the peddlers at the cocaine ring worked in round-the-clock shifts. Thus it was functional 24X7, being an open-air 'bazaar' for the prohibited drug. The ring was managed by a group of eight, who banked on the "vulnerable" underprivileged people, who resided in the area. "Their sensory is overloaded by these street urchins trying to sell them drugs. These people took advantage of some of those most vulnerable,” a source told New York Post

The arrested suspects include Johnny Perez, also known as “Ghost,” Aaron Starks, nicknamed “Duke,” Sekou Simpson aka “Tre,” Fred Johnson aka “Trinny,” Davon Mial who goes by “Smooth,” and Donnell Bruns, dubbed as “Mac". Two other suspects, namely Frayvon Young aka “Harlem,” and Robert Mason are still at large.

The suspects started the 'bazaar' apparently around December 2019, and worked in different shifts to keep the business running. They conducted hundreds of hand-to-hand sales of crack cocaine throughout the day. While one 'shift' worked from late morning to late afternoon, another handled sales during the evening and nighttime. The suspects distributed the shifts amongst themselves and did not have a preset roster for the same.

"As alleged, the defendants operated a veritable 24-hour open-air bazaar for the sale of crack cocaine in Times Square.  We recall the bad old days of a much seedier Times Square that was unwelcoming, and we are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those days remain just a memory," stated Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss. 

The arrested suspects have been charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. If convicted, they can face between 10 years to life sentence in prison. 

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