Four Alleged Members of Narcotics and Murder Gang Arrested
NEW YORK (AP) _ Four alleged members of a narcotics and murder-for-hire gang were arrested on murder, drug or conspiracy charges just as three of them were about to carry out contract killings on fictitious people, a prosecutor says.
The Harlem gang, the Vigilantes, has killed at least 15 people, including a Drug Enforcement Administration informer and a witness in the murder trial of gang member Nathaniel Sweeper, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Wednesday.
The arrests of six more gang members are expected and ″by the time we’re through, this’ll be the end of the gang,″ he said.
Morgenthau said three ″hits″ were paid for by an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer who told members of the Vigilantes he wanted three fictitious rivals killed.
Nathaniel Walker, 22, and Delroy Ross, 20, of Manhattan, and Alexis Lee Perry, 23, of the Bronx were charged with conspiracy to murder after their arrests Tuesday night, Morgenthau said. They and a fourth man were charged with selling drugs.
Walker and Ross also were charged with second-degree murder in the death of witness Bobby Edmonds, Morgenthau said.
Edmonds, 38, a drug addict, was shot to death Nov. 14, 1983, hours before he was to testify in Sweeper’s trial in the October 1982 death of a man who was shot during an argument over a parking space in Harlem.
Sweeper was acquitted in the 1983 trial but was then indicted in the September 1980 murder of DEA informer James Carter. He was convicted and is now serving 25 years to life in prison.
Most of the gang’s victims have been witnesses to crimes, rivals, or competitors of other drug dealers who paid the gang to kill off the competition, said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Sterling Johnson.
″We have found that drug dealing usually spawns an allied industry of enforcement″ which the gang uses to protect its own and other narcotics businesses, Johnson said.
Before the current investigation began, the gang moved about $20,000 worth of heroin a day - more than $7 million a year - in containers stamped with the ″Vigilante″ brand, Morgenthau said. The traffic has been reduced to about $3,000 a day by surveillance and arrests, he said.
Walker, Ross, Perry and Sweeper’s brother Frank, 31, also were charged with second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance because of $35,000 worth of heroin they allegedly sold to undercover officers, the district attorney said.
Morgenthau said the gang has 24 identified members and some 40 associates, as well as a trainee group called the ″Golden Hatchets.″
The core group of the Vigilantes had been the Sweeper brothers, most of whom are now in prison, Morgenthau said. Besides Nathaniel and Frank, there is Anthony, serving six years to life for drug dealing; Jerome, doing three to six yars for assault; Prince, serving 71/2 to 15 years for manslaughter; and Samuel, serving 41/2 to nine years for narcotics, he said.