GOSHEN - Sixteen defendants were charged Tuesday morning in a sweep that prosecutors say targeted a street gang called “the 600” and heroin, cocaine and crack sales in Newburgh and elsewhere.
Prosecutors say they seized bulk and packaged heroin with street names including “Focus,” “Shine,” and “X-men;” bulk amounts of cocaine; 40 pounds of marijuana; a kilo of methamphetamine; $36,000 cash; and three handguns and two shotguns, one of them sawed off.
The arrests stem from an investigation led by the offices of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, with local and federal law enforcement agencies. The result was a 172-count indictment.
“Our investigation uncovered a sophisticated drug trafficking ring that we allege peddled cocaine, heroin, and violence on the streets of Newburgh” and Orange County, Schneiderman said in a news release.
The 10-month-long investigation was led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, with the help of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, City of Newburgh police and Orange County’s Drug Task Force, Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say "the 600" took their name from a notorious Chicago street gang, a Crips-affiliated group called the 600 Black Disciples, and that members of the group also bought, sold or possessed guns “for protection and enforcement of their narcotics operation.”
Schneiderman said the investigation code name, “Operation Yellow Brick Road,” came in part from defendant Damion Jackson’s nickname, “Toe-Toe.”
On Tuesday in Orange County Court, assistant deputy attorneys general Shanon LaCorte and Christopher Clark said the defendants were involved in a conspiracy to sell heroin and cocaine, as members of a violent street gang called “the 600.” The top defendants face class A felony charges, including counts of first- or second-degree criminal sale or possession of a controlled substance. The conspiracy charge, which all 16 face, carries a maximum sentence of 8 ⅓ to 25 years in prison.
Judge Craig Brown arraigned one defendant early Tuesday at a local hospital.
As he arraigned the other defendants, Brown set high bails and ordered bail source hearings should any defendant come up with the money.
For Frederick Blue, 21, who faces A-II drug sale charges and who is awaiting sentencing on a felony gun case, Brown set bail at $1 million cash and $2.5 million bond, provoking grumbling in the gallery.
“Who’d he kill?” one woman asked angrily before walking out of the courtroom.
Schneiderman’s office said Dwaine Tate, Andrew Hutchinson, and Dwaine Watson of Newburgh bought cocaine in bulk from a dealer named Kennedy Richards in Paterson, N.J., then brought the drugs to Newburgh to repackage for sale or cook into crack. Officials say Damion Jackson of Newburgh sold cocaine and heroin to John Boughton of Poughkeepsie, who then sold to a few customers in Ulster County. Jackson and Steve Cohen of Newburgh supplied heroin to other defendants for resale, officials said. The heroin came from the Bronx.
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said Tuesday was “a very good day.”
“You’re seeing more collaboration between the agencies,” he said, with Orange County and Newburgh sharing information and staff with the state agencies. “I think this is a model we can work with in the future.”