Officials: NYPD arrest 32 in illegal narcotics and gambling house operation
New York (WPIX) — Authorities have arrested 32 people on narcotics and gambling charges after uncovering a large-scale distribution network in East Village and West Village.
Through an extensive wiretap investigation, authorities discovered an alleged cocaine and heroin distribution network based in the East Village and a related gambling operation located near West 11 Street and Avenue of the Americas in the West Village.
The investigation led to the arrest of 32 individuals in New York City, Massachusetts, Georgia and Florida.
Charges include conspiracy, criminal scale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal sale of marijuana, promoting gambling and money laundering.
“The investigation began with cocaine and heroin trafficking and ultimately led police to a sophisticated illegal gambling operation that catered to a clientele of New York City professionals,” the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for NYC said in a statement.
Authorities named David Diaz, 52, as the alleged head of both the narcotics distribution network and gambling operation, which includes the Poker House and an online gambling business.
Diaz allegedly worked with two top associates: Geeta Singh, 43, served as the manager and promoter of the gambling operation, and Benjamin Guerrero, 38, who authorities call the “pit boss” for the West Village Poker House. Guerrero allegedly kept a drug stash in an East Village apartment and oversaw the packaging and sales of narcotics.
“Defendants used coded language to discuss narcotics transactions by phone,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Authorities said the defendants sold approximately $50,000 in drugs to undercover officers.
The NYPD also stationed undercover officers at the West Village gambling house.
“As a result of the combined efforts of the undercover operation and the wiretap investigation, police were able to identify the hierarchy and methods of the gambling operation,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Officials said the Poker House, located at 446 Avenue of the Americas, was open from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., and accommodated 30 players per two-hour game.
“Players at lower stakes tables on the first floor were required to purchase a minimum of $200 in chips, while higher stakes players upstairs were required to purchase $500 in chips,” officials said in a statement.
Police recovered a total of approximately $125,000 cash, multiple money counters, gambling records, thousands of poker chips and two vehicles, as well as a handgun, a shotgun and an air rifle. Over two pounds of suspected cocaine, heroin, marijuana and Xanax pills were also recovered.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill commended all of the investigators that spearheaded the months-long probe.
“We will continue to be relentless in our mission to dismantle these types of illicit operations and bring the criminals who run them to justice,” he said.