|Pre-dawn raid on Shinnecock Reservation nets drugs and illegal weapons|
Authorities also made dozens of arrests as part of the operation.
BY JOHN VALENTI AND MITCHELL FREEDMAN
April 19, 2007, 2:16 PM EDT
A pre-dawn raid headed by the New York State Police on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton Thursday led to what law enforcement officials called the "dismantling" of "a major narcotics distribution network" on the East End of Long Island.
Arrests included eight residents of the Shinnecock Nation, as well as the son of tribal trustee Lance A. Gumbs, state police said.
Seized in the raid, launched just after 5 a.m. and conducted in conjunction with the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Secret Service and the Suffolk County Probation Department, were four vehicles, eight handguns, eight rifles, eight shotguns, almost $2,000 in currency, as well as marijuana, heroin, crack and drug paraphernalia. Police also seized a computer and flat screen monitor.
The raid was the result of an investigation dating back to September -- an investigation police said was "a request from the Trustees of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation" made in a letter to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.
The raid involved the execution of nine search warrants -- five of them on the reservation and four of them at locations in eastern Brookhaven and the East End, law enforcement sources told Newsday.
Notable among those arrested was Awan Gumbs, 26, of 4 Midgie Lane, Hampton Bays. The son of a Shinnecock National Tribal Trustee, Gumbs, according to State Police Major Walter Heesch, conducted some of his alleged narcotics sales from his father's place of business -- the Shinnecock Smoke Shop on Montauk Highway in Southampton.
Police called the younger Gumbs "the primary supplier of cocaine" to the reservation and "surrounding areas."
Two of those arrested -- John A. Miles, 35, of 156 Hampton Ave., Mastic, and Terrill Latney, 27, of 2 Bogota Road, Mastic Beach -- were described by state police as "suppliers of large quantities of cocaine" sold by Gumbs.
Law enforcement officials would not confirm the total number of arrests made or the exact amounts of drugs seized in the operation.
A news conference by state police and Spota is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the Shinnecock Indian Nation would only confirm the raid had occurred on the reservation Thursday but said the tribe would have no comment until it could prepare a statement. As of 2 p.m., no statement had been released.
Police did not detail the charges against Gumbs, Miles and Latney.
They did announce the charges against 10 others arrested in the raid, including the eight reservation residents: Joseph Johnson, 24, charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; Michael Morton, 33, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree conspiracy; Damon Wade, 36, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy; Nakai Bess, 21, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy; William I. Bess, 23, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy; Linee Quinn, 31, second-degree conspiracy; Damon Moore, 38, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; and, Matthew Smith, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Two other non-reservation residents arrested were identified by police as: Kristine Goree of 2 Midgie Lane, Hampton Bays, charged with second-degree conspiracy; and, Kyle Bartlett of 40 Constable Drive, Riverhead, charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.
One fifth-generation resident of the reservation, Doreen Pepe, said she was awakened around 5 a.m. by the sound of helicopters overhead.
"They were really close," Pepe said. "I got out to take a look. I saw them circle the circumference of the reservation. I had this feeling of dread. I went to the end of my road and saw the state police. Then I got a call [from a friend]. They said it was a drug raid. I actually was happy to see them [the police] doing something about the drug situation. It's just a couple of people here."
Pepe noted that the reservation is a "small community," adding "nothing doesn't go on here . . . that doesn't go on in any other place in the world."
Since the reservation is tribal land -- and self-governed -- state and local police do not patrol the Shinnecock Indian Nation and, in fact, often seek permission prior to conducting operations on the reservation. Whether police had sought that permission prior to conducting the raid was unclear early Thursday afternoon.
The Shinnecock Reservation does have its own tribal security. It also was unclear if tribal security had been informed prior to the raid. Law enforcement officials told Newsday they do not believe it was.
While Pepe said she was "elated" about the enforcement action Thursday, other tribal residents expressed anger that the raid had taken place.
Several store owners on the reservation informed members of the media seeking information about the raid that they were trespassing on private property and asked reporters and a camera crew to leave.