Philip Guzman and Paul Lockett, suspects who evaded Peekskill drug raids, sought by FBI
FBI agents are continuing to search for two suspects in Thursday's major federal and local takedown of reputed violent drug gangs in Peekskill.
Agents with the bureau's Violent Crimes Task Force in White Plains, Westchester County police and Peekskill police arrested 15 suspected drug gang members as they swept through town in raids that began just after dawn.
Fourteen of the suspects were arrested on the streets of Peekskill -- most of them in the Dunbar Heights housing complex. A 15th defendant, Kenyatta Burnett, was already imprisoned after being convicted in a previous drug-related case.
The FBI said two suspects, Philip Guzman, 28, and Paul Lockett, 32, managed to escape Thursday's dragnet. Guzman is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and narcotics conspiracy. Lockett is charged with drug possession and conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs.
Federal and local authorities said the gangs operated for four years at the Dunbar Heights complex and other locations in Peekskill where they dealt crack cocaine and heroin. Lorenzo Wagner Jr., 29, is accused of being the leader of a drug gang responsible for multiple shootings of rival drug dealers. Wagner gave the orders to the other members of the gang, dubbed "The Organization" by federal authorities to carry out the shootings.
The Thursday arrest signaled the Peekskill police department's vow to protect the city's 30,000 residents from drugs and violence, Police Chief Eric Johansen said.
"These arrests send a clear message that drugs and violence are not tolerated anywhere in Peekskill," he said. "Our narcotics unit worked closely with the U.S. attorney's office, the FBI, and the Westchester County Police to break up this violent drug ring."
Seven other reputed members of Wagner's gang -- including his father, Lorenzo Wagner Sr., 48 -- were arrested Thursday. In addition to the father and son, Juan Urena, 23; Stefano Demicheli, 25; James Patterson, 27; Marquise Roberson, 24 and Myron Wagner, 19, were arrested. Guzman is a reputed member of Wagner's gang. They were charged with multiple drug and weapons crimes and face sentences ranging from 5 years to life behind bars if convicted.
The arrested suspects pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in White Plains and were sent to Westchester County Jail in Valhalla.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said the raids show that drugs and violence can infect towns of any size.
"Even small towns like Peekskill are not immune from the narcotics trade and the violence with which it is inextricably linked," Bharara said.
"Drug trafficking and the gun violence that inevitably comes with it are not only big-city problems," Venizelos added.
In addition to Wagner's gang, seven other Peekskill residents were charged in a second indictment with conspiring to sell illegal drugs.
Lamar Kingwood, 34; Jamel Bailey, 33; Melissa Dabbs, 43; Isaac Mallory, 33; Tyron Brickhouse, 28; Ronald Carter, 47, and Burnett were charged with multiple drug crimes.
All pleaded not guilty in federal court except for Burnett, who is expected to be arraigned next week.
Lockett and Hakim Anderson, 33, are charged in a separate criminal complaint with conspiring to sell crack cocaine.
Authorities said the raids make Peekskill a safer city.
"The Peekskill community is safer today because of the outstanding work of all of the agencies involved in this investigation," said Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth.