Ten suspects, including some reputed gang members, were arrested on gun and drug charges in Hempstead and Uniondale, authorities announced Wednesday along with making a plea for tips regarding three murders last week.
Four of the suspects were rounded up this week, another six were busted in recent months and more are still being sought as a part of a year-old continuing joint investigation involving federal agents, Nassau County police and Hempstead village police, authorities said.
“These are significant players,” Michael Harpster, FBI special-agent-in-charge of the criminal division in the New York office, told reporters. “There’s no boundaries to what these guys will do or where these guys will go.”
None of the suspects has been charged in the three Hempstead murders in a five-day span last week. Authorities said that Crime Stoppers has doubled the reward for information in those cases to $10,000 from the usual $5,000.
“I know someone out there knows who the perpetrator was,” Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall said. “We are asking you to come forward.”
The murder victims include: 45-year-old Jonathan Wade of Hempstead, who was shot in his car and then crashed it into three boys at a nearby school on June 30; 30-year-old Gerraud Hill of Malverne, who was shot while driving and crashed his car into a house on July 3; and 28-year-old Victor Benitez, who was found shot dead on Clinton Avenue on the Fourth of July.
“I believe one of those cases may be gang-related, but I wouldn’t say definitively,” Nassau Police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki said of the murders.
Among those facing unrelated federal charges are three previously convicted drug dealers from Hempstead, including one who allegedly shot and wounded a man in December while defending his drug-dealing turf and another who is accused of keeping a loaded semi-automatic handgun in his son’s baby stroller while at a park.
The rest of the suspects are facing charges in Nassau criminal court. Those counts include criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal sale of a firearm and gang assault, among others. One suspect is charged with menacing a Hempstead village police officer with a weapon.
Several suspects are allegedly members of the Bloods street gang, and at least one is a member of their rival, the Crips, according to investigators.
Also assisting in the continuing investigation were agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Detectives request anyone with information regarding these crimes to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.