Two crafty drug crews, known for breaking security cameras and street lights to control an upper Manhattan street, were busted Tuesday, authorities said.
For three years, Inwood's Vermilyea Avenue between West 207th and Academy Streets had been under the thumb of dealers who sold cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana from building lobbies and second floor landings, said Bridget Brennan, Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Police charged 17 suspects Tuesday -- 14 arrested in raids, which netted one gun, and three defendants already in custody.
The crews coordinated operations, shared lookouts for the street and customers and rarely made sales outdoors, officials said.
"It was a large group of young people creating an intolerable situation for residents living in the neighborhood," said Brennan. "The presence of drug dealers in your hallways is intimidating enough. On top of that, to facilitate their business they disabled street lights and surveillance cameras."
NYPD detectives conducted a nine-month investigation called Operation Manhattan Project, paying almost $16,500 in more than two dozen undercover buys which yielded 1,550 ecstasy pills, about seven ounces of cocaine and some marijuana, officials said.