What to Know
- In a third round of arrests since June of last year, six more members and associates of the Bully Gang, including both a current and a former New York City correction officer, were arrested early Thursday by federal and city investigators
- The Bully Gang is a New York City-based street gang that traffics in cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and guns across the Northeast United States.
- The current NYC Correction officer arrested Thursday is accused of smuggling drugs into the Rikers Island Correctional Facility.
In a third round of arrests since June of last year, ten more members and associates of the Bully Gang, including both a current and a former New York City correction officer, were arrested early Thursday by federal and city investigators, prosecutors said.
Johnny Chiles, the current Department of Correction officer, and former DOC officer Darius Murphy were both arrested Thursday, accused of smuggling drugs into the Rikers Island Correctional Facility. Both are accused of accepting bribes to smuggle in comic books and court papers soaked in K2, otherwise known as synthetic marijuana, between June 2019 and June 2020.
"These current and former City Correction officers used the access and influence of their position to traffic dangerous drugs from the Bully Gang to inmates on Rikers Island in exchange for bribes, undermining the safety of the City's jails and that of their fellow officers," said city Department of Investigations Commissioner Margaret Garnett.
The Bully Gang is a New York City-based street gang that traffics in cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and guns across the northeastern United States. The gang's leaders allegedly would send Brooklyn-based drug dealers, which included members of the gang and other associates, to Maine to operate so-called "trap" houses, where the drugs were stored.
The proceeds of their drug enterprise would get laundered through financial transactions and buying high-end goods, such as jewelry and cars, prosecutors alleged. While investigating, authorities seized more than $380,000 in cash, more than 15 funs, six kilograms of cocaine, 600 grams of fentanyl, multiple luxury watches and four vehicles with hidden "trap" compartments.
The gang also has ties to a series of armed robberies in Lower Manhattan starting in 2020. Members Franklin Gillespie and Latrell Johnson showed firearms to victims on the street to overpower them, prosecutors said. In both 2020 and 2021, Johnson also allegedly extorted a business in Brooklyn while brandishing a weapon.
The gang frequently used force and violence to promote their power, prosecutors said. In June 2018, Bully Gang founders and leader Moeleek Harrell conspired with another member to murder a perceived "rival" of the gang, and later shot at the man multiple times on a Brooklyn street. Harrell continued to lead the gang while behind bars, according to prosecutors. He allegedly led the drug trafficking, bribery and money laundering scheme that was responsible for smuggling drugs into the jail via bribed correction officers or other conspirators.
"For years, members and associates of the Bully Gang have committed brutal and wanton acts of violence while spreading the poison of dangerous and illicit drugs throughout communities and even correctional institutions," said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme. "Thanks to the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners, today's charges mark significant progress towards permanently neutralizing the Bully Gang."
In June and October of last year agents of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, NYPD officers, and NYC Department of Investigations officers arrested a total of 47 members and associates of the gang on federal narcotics, weapons, and money laundering charges. Those arrested Thursday face similar charges. The ATF also assisted in this latest investigation.
“Today, a sophisticated criminal network, committing acts of violence, trafficking in firearms, and distributing narcotics across the east coast has been dismantled," ATF Special Agent in Charge John B. DeVito said Thursday.
The defendants were scheduled to appear in court Thursday evening, except for four who were already at Rikers and will be arraigned at a later date.