UPDATE: A woman who Englewood police said sold Ecstasy “mollies” from an ice cream concession stand near the town pool, a man charged with shooting at an occupied car and another accused of running a gambling joint out of his home are among 18 people charged as part of a massive anti-crime crackdown the past three months, Chief Arthur O’Keefe announced Wednesday.
Shameeka Drakeford, 29, was freed on $20,000 bail following her arrest on Sept. 17 on charges that also include selling heroin and cocaine.
This comes just three months after Drakeford, who worked in the park during the summer, was arrested on similar charges in June.
Also arrested was 39-year-old Vaughn Sims, who police said was running an illegal gambling out of his Central Avenue home.
Police said they seized $18,000 in cash when they arrested Sims there on Sept. 19.
Detectives believe much of the money gambled there were drug-dealing and burglary proceeds, O’Keefe said during a news conference in Hackensack this afternoon.
O’Keefe (in photo, above) said some of the people arrested had been seen in a playground near King Gardens, “no more than 100 feet from the front door of the police department,” brandishing handguns in front of children.
After area residents complained, detectives and street officers collected valuable information that led to several arrests, including that of Kishan Canon, 35, and 25-year-old Demetrius Mixon, who O’Keefe said were selling drugs from their King Gardens apartments.
Those charged also include Durelle Whitening and his neighbor, Anthony Trumpet.
Investigators seized a sawed-off shotgun with a pistol grip, a 9mm semi-automatic, a .25-caliber revolver and a bag of ammunition for each weapon while arresting Whitening, who they said fired a shot into someone’s car in early September.
Detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office had been watching Whitening and his neighbor, Anthony Trumpet, before making undercover buys of crack and pot from both.
The surveillance was part of a joint operation that followed drive-by shootings, drug-related home invasions and complaints from residents about open-air dealing.
“You had people shooting at each other in the street,” O’Keefe said, adding that he turned to county Prosecutor John L. Molinelli for help in keeping Englewood from becoming “the Wild West.”
The operation cluminated yesterday in a raid on the “Golden Chocolate” jewelry store on West Palisade Avenue, where O’Keefe said some of the defendants fenced stolen goods. After finding several pieces of swag, some of which didn’t have pawn slips, police charged the owner, Galsun Khudaynatov, of Fort Lee, with 16 counts of violating the city code.
“The criminal activity that has plagued this community has been steadily increasing, which ultimately inspired this police response,” O’Keefe said this afternoon, in announcing the crackdown.
Englewood police worked with prosecutor’s detectives from July through September, dedicating “significant time and manpower to systematically target criminal offenders currently operating in Englewood and the surrounding towns,” the chief said.
They “used intelligence gathered from confidential informants, police observations and the community to compile a list of individuals while accurately identifying their illegal behavior,” the chief said.
Detectives from Molinelli’s Narcotics Task Force, Special Investigations Squad, Gang Squad and the Englewood Police Department then “formulated a strategic operational plan to rid the most problematic criminal element…,” he added.
That included “surveillance, undercover buys and other investigative techniques,” leading to the arrests, O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe and Molinelli thanked Bergen County’s Sheriff’s Office, Police Department and Probation Department, as well as the Englewood Fire Department and police from Bergenfield, Hackensack and Perth Amboy for “valuable assistance to the safety and success of this operation.”
More arrests are expected, both men said.
Still in the wind is Akeem Boone, the suspected owner of 20 grams of crack cocaine and a loaded handgun reported stolen out of North Carolina that were both found in his Hackensack apartment. Boone, 27, wasn’t around during the raid, police said, but his girlfriend was: Blair Steeley was arrested on charges related to the discovery.
Warrants have been issued for Boone’s arrest.
Expected to turn themselves in today were Damond King, 22, of Shepard Avenue in Englewood, and Stephanie Cotto, 18, of Teaneck.
Those arrested as part of Chief O’Keefe’s initiative include Davon Creighton, who’s been free on $75,000 bail in connection with a marijuana possession and distribution arrest in March, and Varian “Killa” Hooks, 22, who’s being held on more than $52,000 combined bail on drug-selling charges following his arrest last month.
The others arrested on drug-related charges:
Tyra “Ty” Jordan
(O’Keefe photo for CLIFFVIEW PILOT by Mary K. Miraglia, who also contributed to this story.)