Twelve Charged With Operating An Open Drug Market Inside A Bronx Apartment Building And Carrying Firearms

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Frank A. Tarentino III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) announced the unsealing of a Superseding Indictment charging ZUKEILA PLAZA, a/k/a “Keila,” MAURICE SINCLAIR, a/k/a “Skino,” a/k/a “Ski,” LAWRENCE GREEN, a/k/a “Lzz,” a/k/a “LJ,” LOUIS LAWRENCE, a/k/a “Adam,” a/k/a “Anthony,” a/k/a “A,” DEION JOHNSON, a/k/a “Billz,” a/k/a “Black,” NATHAN SMITH, a/k/a “Youngin,” a/k/a “600,” a/k/a “Six,” ESTIBEN OLIVA, a/k/a “Mula,” JOHN GRAVES, a/k/a “Nephew,” ALI DOBY, a/k/a “Lee Drilly,” a/k/a “Fifty,” GODDES EARL, a/k/a “Asia,” JAVON HOSKINS, a/k/a “Jason,” a/k/a “Twin,” and JOHN HENDRICKS, a/k/a “Tyson,” a/k/a “Fred,” in connection with their distributing narcotics from the lobby and apartments of a residential building in the Bronx.  Certain of the defendants were also charged with carrying firearms in connection with the drug operation. 

PLAZA, LAWRENCE, JOHNSON, and GRAVES were taken into custody on Friday, June 24, 2022 and were presented before United States Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.  EARL, HOSKINS, and SMITH were previously presented after being earlier taken into custody; GREEN and DOBY are in state correctional facilities and will be presented at a later date, and SINCLAIR, OLIVA, and HENDRICKS presently remain at large. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Vernon S. Broderick.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “As alleged these charges, for more than three years, the defendants in this case took over the lobby and multiple apartments of an apartment building in the Bronx, turning that building into an open market for drugs and denying its many residences, including families with children, safe access to their homes.  To be clear: armed drug traffickers will face consequences for their actions, whether they are operating on the streets or inside the homes of this City.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III said:  “These arrests have brought much needed relief to residents of an apartment building in the Fordham Manor neighborhood of the Bronx.  As alleged, for years, this drug trafficking organization manufactured, sold, and packaged dangerous drugs putting neighboring families and residents in harm’s way.  I applaud our law enforcement partners on their collaboration and resolve to make our city safer and healthier.”

NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said:  “This investigation shows that the NYPD and its law enforcement partners are relentless in identifying, arresting, and prosecuting those who allegedly peddle drugs or carry and use illegal guns on the streets of New York City. We vow to keep fighting this criminality, to ensure safer communities for all the people we serve. I want to thank the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the New York Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and all of our investigators for their hard work in this important case.”

As alleged in the Superseding Indictment and based on statements made in Manhattan federal court[1]

ZUKEILA PLAZA, a/k/a “Keila” (40), MAURICE SINCLAIR, a/k/a “Skino,” a/k/a “Ski” (26), LAWRENCE GREEN, a/k/a “Lzz,” a/k/a “LJ” (28), LOUIS LAWRENCE, a/k/a “Adam,” a/k/a “Anthony,” a/k/a “A” (32), DEION JOHNSON, a/k/a “Billz,” a/k/a “Black” (25), NATHAN SMITH, a/k/a “Youngin,” a/k/a “600,” a/k/a “Six” (24), ESTIBEN OLIVA, a/k/a “Mula” (28), JOHN GRAVES, a/k/a “Nephew” (35), ALI DOBY, a/k/a “Lee Drilly,” a/k/a “Fifty” (20), GODDES EARL, a/k/a “Asia” (49); JAVON HOSKINS, a/k/a “Jason,” a/k/a “Twin” (41), and JOHN HENDRICKS, a/k/a “Tyson,” a/k/a “Fred” (56), all of New York City, are charged with being members of a drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”) that distributed drugs, including crack cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin, in the Bronx, including from inside 2685 Valentine Avenue, from March 2019 through June 2022.  PLAZA, SINCLAIR, GREEN, LAWRENCE, JOHNSON, SMITH, EARL, and HOSKINS are also charged with using and carrying firearms in connection with the charged drug trafficking conspiracy and aiding and abetting the same.

Manufacturing kilograms of crack cocaine on site inside 2685 Valentine Avenue and working in shifts during the day and the night on a day-to-day basis for over three years, the members of the DTO operated freely inside that building, creating an open market for drugs in the building, which they distributed to a large base of customers who bought drugs there.  The drug market the defendants operated often prevented residents of the building, which included families with children, from safely entering the lobby of the apartment building in which they lived.

SMITH is also charged with illegally possessing a gun as a felon on February 17, 2022 in the Bronx.    

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A set of charts containing the names, charges, and maximum penalties for the defendants is set forth below.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA and NYPD and thanked the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in this case.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Peter J. Davis, Michael R. Herman, and Thomas John Wright are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 


[1]              As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.