Major Queens drug, gun trafficking ring linked to Latin Kings gang dismantled

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, as well as the NYPD, said a major drug and gun bust will restore a sense of safety for residents wanting to enjoy the green space at Rufus King Park after dark.

"It's a very different place at nighttime," one resident said. "Nighttime, you're going to see everything out here."

18-month investigation

According to authorities, residents will see a lot less violence and open air drug sales in the park now that a major million-dollar criminal ring with ties to the Latin Kings gang has been taken off the streets. 

An 18-month investigation led to the arrest of eight men.

Police said the ring allegedly sold many types of drugs, as well as guns.

"The ringleader, Adrien Escobar, faces about 150 years in jail, to the lowest, which is probably around three years, and it's all in between," Katz said. "This is a major trafficking ring, so they are facing significant time."

On a sunny June day, it was obvious how much the park meant to residents. 

"This was a long-term investigation by the narcotics unit and violent crime squad, and Queens South detectives," NYPD Deputy Chief Jerry O' Sullivan said.

Police said the ring allegedly sold many types of drugs, including pills, ecstasy, Adderall, cocaine and fentanyl. They also sold guns, some of which were purchased by undercover detectives who risked their lives to get them off the streets.

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"We had our undercover detectives go up there for a while and spend enormous amounts of time in this area identifying people who were responsible for not only carrying firearms and selling narcotics, but also selling firearms," O'Sullivan said.

The defendants range in age from 18 to 43 and come from Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Hicksville, Long Island. 

The defendants range in age from 18 to 43.

They are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but Katz and police say they have the evidence to make a very strong case.