Wiretap Investigation Reveals Police-Killing Plot, Gang Unity

A sting operation in Queens has not only netted a number of gang-related arrests, but also uncovered a plot to kill police officers and an unusual alliance between members of two notorious enemies: the Crips and the Bloods.

Law enforcement officers have revealed the results of a massive investigation, named “Operation Under Siege,” which began nearly two years ago, triggered by the May 2008 death of 15-year-old Brandon Bethea, who was shot by a gang member firing into a crowd outside a Far Rockaway housing project.

Over 100 gang members have been arrested, and dozens of guns, stacks of cash and a stash of drugs have been seized. Additionally, a plot to shoot police officers from rooftops in Far Rockaway and South Jamaica was foiled. Keith Livingston, a drug dealer and ex-con who had numerous drug violations on his rap sheet, was heard complaining that he “was tired of being stopped” by police walking the beat in South Jamaica. He was arrested 12 hours after making those statements, and authorities recovered two weapons, including 9-mm Hi-Point rifle, from Livingston’s home.

The foot patrol came as the result of Operation Impact, an initiative of the New York Police Department that puts rookie officers on the streets in high-crime areas.

Livingston has been charged with gun possession and conspiracy, and is being held on $250,000 bail.

The investigation depended in large measure on wiretaps—over 300 wiretaps and thousands of hours of tapes. According to federal statistics, Queens uses wiretaps more than in any other jurisdiction besides Los Angeles.

Police also uncovered ties between the two rival gangs, a rare but not unheard-of arrangement that centered on money. Crips in Far Rockaway, who were attempting to gain control over drug turf in some housing projects, bought drugs—marijuana, cocaine and heroin—at wholesale prices from Bloods in South Jamaica, who are not loyal to the Bloods in Far Rockaway. In fact, some of the South Jamaica Bloods are members of four Crips sets, known collectively as Flocc.

Also arrested in Operation Under Siege was Gquan Lloyd, 23, a Crips member who allegedly rallied Flocc in order to “corner the narcotics trade.” He was charged with gun possession, as was Farrad Smith, 23, a former corrections officer. Police discovered a loaded AK-47 under his mattress, as well as a handgun allegedly stolen from a fellow corrections officer.

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