25 people arrested in crackdown on Buffalo East Side gang
By Dan Herbeck (The Buffalo News)
December 17, 2009, 7:20 AM
The gang sold cocaine, owned high-powered firearms and scared the wits out of law-abiding citizens on the East Side of Buffalo.
One of their leaders continued to deal coke while he was on parole and wore an electronic monitoring device around his ankle.
And for fun, some of their members enjoyed laying down big bets while watching two pit bulls try to tear each other apart.
Those were some of the descriptions offered by law enforcement officials Wednesday after a crackdown on the city’s Central Park Gang, also known as CPG.
Twenty-five people were arrested on cocaine-trafficking charges, and two men were fugitives as of Wednesday evening.
Three of the individuals also face charges that they arranged and promoted dog fights where thousands of dollars in bets were made while two animals tried to kill each other.
“This is a notorious group,” said James H. Robertson, special agent in charge of the Buffalo FBI office. “The Buffalo police and the [U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration] identified them to us as one of the gangs who were creating the most trouble in the city of Buffalo.”
The arrests followed a lengthy investigation by the FBI-led Safe Streets Task Force, the DEA and other agencies, including the State Police and Buffalo police.
In the past year, police have recovered more than 85 pounds of cocaine and $600,000 cash related to the activities of the CPG gang, authorities said.
During a series of arrests that began early Wednesday morning, police found a loaded AK-47 assault rifle and a bulletproof vest at the Cheektowaga home of one defendant, David Manuel, 35. Numerous other firearms and $40,000 cash were found at the home of Manuel’s mother, Pauline, 55, on Northland Avenue in the city.
Authorities allege that three men— David Manuel; Tyrone Pennick, 33, of Buffalo; and Rodney Hill, 44, of Buffalo — are the main players in the drug ring. They are accused of operating a continuing criminal enterprise.
Pennick has a previous drug conviction and is on state parole. He supervised cocaine trafficking from his home while wearing an electronic monitoring device around his ankle, Assistant U. S. Attorney George Burgasser said in court papers. The ankle monitor contained a global positioning device that allowed parole officers to find out where he was at any given time.
According to court papers, Pennick is considered one of the city’s biggest cocaine dealers. FBI agents said in the court papers that Pennick was shot and wounded outside an apartment building on Delta Road in Amherst in October 2008.
In February 2009, police found the bullet-riddled body of Clarence Jackson — who was suspected of involvement in Pennick’s shooting — in a vacant house on Koons Avenue. No one has been charged with the slaying.
David Manuel and two brothers, Leon Nelson, 39, and Dwayne Nelson, 40, are accused of running one of the worst dog-fighting operations in the city.
In a related case, Leon Nelson faces five state charges that were filed against him in July, after Buffalo police found 11 dogs in a house on Nevada Avenue. Police said the animals were found “in filthy, inhumane conditions, living in waste without food and water.” Equipment used in dog fighting was found in the house.
In addition to Manuel and his mother, the Nelson brothers, Hill and Pennick, the drug trafficking defendants were identified as:
Judith Askew, 42; Joseph Carrier, 37; Wardell Epps, 39; Yolanda Hodge, 32; Arthur Hubbard, 33; Sharon Jackson, 45; Henry Lloyd, 23; Louis Manuel Jr., 36; Anthony Newman, 31; Charlmers Rivera, 41; Bryant Woods, 44; Frank Cirocco, 41; Jermaine Howard, 34; Jesse Hughes, 29; Mykale King, 22; Tonya Maye, 40; Evelina Stokes, 21; Thomas Wiltse, 39; and Joseph Marble, 27.
All are from Buffalo except Cirocco, of Amherst; Louis Manuel Jr., of Atlanta; Hughes, of Houston; and Maye, of Cheektowaga.
The two defendants still sought for arrest Wednesday evening were identified by the FBI as Edward “Boo” Bishop, 48, and Swazine Swindle, 31, both of Buffalo.