A local leader of the United Blood Nation gang, known commonly as the Bloods, pleaded guilty on Nov. 15 to the distribution of crack cocaine in a case stemming from a June 2011 arrest at the Old Mill Court apartment complex in Rockville Centre.
Latee “La” Smith, 31, of Hempstead, was one of 14 men arrested in a predawn raid by the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, the Rockville Centre Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department’s Homicide Squad on June 1, 2011.
The raid, which unfolded simultaneously with others in Baldwin, Deer Park, Hempstead, Lakeview and Roosevelt, was the culmination of a 14-month investigation into a village-based drug distribution ring. The investigation included wire taps of Smith’s cellphone as well as the phones of some of the other defendants over a four-month period in which the police and FBI intercepted more than 6,500 calls that revealed information on the sale and purchase of narcotics.
Smith pleaded guilty in federal court in Central Islip to a single charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, and could face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
Many of Smith’s codefendants are Rockville Centre residents. They include alleged Bloods members Jamel Richardson-Banks, 28; Neville Hunter, 30; and Rasharid Agee, 34. The others from Old Mill Court who were arrested were Chanell Duncan, 32, and Eddie Richardson, 47. They pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and face sentencing in the next few months.
RVCPD Commissioner Charles Gennario credited the arrests to a recent focus on eradicating gang presence in the village. Since that effort began in 2010, there have been 48 arrests for gang-related offenses, including drug trafficking and violent crimes, and 40 defendants have either been convicted or pleaded guilty. The remaining defendants are expected to get jail time, Gennario said.
“The safety of our residents is paramount, and these convictions will have a long-lasting positive impact on the welfare of the citizens of Rockville Centre,” he said. “The Rockville Centre Police Department wants to thank all of our partners in this case, and I particularly want to express my appreciation for the efforts of the FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office and our colleagues at the Nassau County Police Department.”
According to the RVCPD, the 40 defendants could serve a total of more than 600 years in prison, an average of 15 years per defendant.