Police charged dozens of reputed Albany gang members and associates Tuesday in a large-scale takedown of a violent multi-state drug ring tied to 27 shootings, three killings and two shootings at police officers. In early morning sweeps, investigators working for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged 52 defendants, including alleged members of the South End-based Original Gangsta Killas and Bloods street gangs. The bust netted a reputed Bloods member who works for the SNUG anti-violence organization, one alleged associate of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in Vermont and the wife of notorious drug dealer Michael "Murder" Hoffler, who was accused of killing police informant Christopher Drabik in 2003. It is the largest crackdown in the history of the attorney general's Organized Crime Task Force, officials said. "Shutting this down has made our state safer," Schneiderman told reporters at a news conference Tuesday, joined by State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Police Chief Steven Krokoff and several of the 18 guns seized in the bust. "This is one of the most violent, vicious and ambitious criminal enterprises we've ever seen." The 261-count indictment included allegations that defendants sold large amounts of heroin, cocaine and prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and Percocet. The ring dealt drugs from New York City to Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, Greene, Orange and Rockland counties. The ring would rent hotel rooms where they hired underlings to "bag massive quantities of drugs," said Schneiderman, who said defendants were caught on tape discussing "dividing up their territories." More than 150 officers hit at least 60 locations in Albany, Cohoes, Troy, New York City and Bennington, Vt. The case was dubbed "Operation OGK," after the street gang. In 2009, federal prosecutors in Albany charged 25 members and associates of the "downtown"-based gang with racketeering that included wide drug-dealing and 14 shooting incidents. That followed a 2006 racketeering case against the Jungle Junkies, OGK's "uptown"-based rivals in West Hill and Arbor Hill. One of Tuesday's defendants, reputed OGK member Jamel Pearson, 34, of Albany, known as "Melly Mel," allegedly planned to use a handgun to shoot uptown rivals to avenge the Nov. 29 murder of Richard "50 Cent" Gibbs, an OGK-linked drug dealer, in Albany. Gibbs, who had served four years in prison for selling cocaine, would have been part of Tuesday's indictment, authorities said. Authorities said Pearson was set to get the gun from defendant Mario Perez, 34, of Troy, who was storing the weapon with another defendant, Christopher Padelsky, 38, of Troy. Schneiderman cited thousands of hours of wiretaps in which the defendants would "openly talk about trying to get weapons to retaliate against each other." He said authorities needed to act quickly to get the defendants off the street or risk more bloodshed. "These people were shooters — they were out shooting each other," the attorney general said. "We know that there are at least 27 confirmed shootings associated with this enterprise, two officer shootings and three fatalities among them." Details on the shootings, other than the Gibbs killing, were not immediately disclosed. Schneiderman said the case began with a tip to Albany police, who contacted the attorney general's task force, he said, noting the trail of smaller drug dealers led investigators to the top of the chain. Perez had been among five defendants charged as major traffickers of narcotics, which means they could face life in prison if convicted. The other four were Anthony "Ant" Lugo, 37, of Manhattan, allegedly at the top of the drug ring; Guy Anderson, 34, of Albany, allegedly the leader of the ring in Albany; Haneef Washington, 32, of Albany, who has alleged ties to both the Bloods and OGK; and Michael "Jigga" Williams, 26, of Albany, a reputed Bloods member.
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