'DREADED' WEED WAR
By LARRY CELONA and TODD VENEZIA
PHOTO Cops search for clues on the West Side after a member of the John Shop Crew allegedly shot to death a Bloodstains drug-gang rival, one of a rash of murders in the city.
- G.N. Miller
December 23, 2002 --
A ganja gang war is gripping New York City and the suburbs, as posses of high-living, gun-toting Jamaican drug dealers battle each other for control of the region's multimillion-dollar marijuana market, police sources said.
This struggle for pot primacy among three major gangs - the Bloodstains, Pelpa and the John Shop Crew - has left at least 12 shot dead and 20 wounded, and has led to roughly 100 home-invasion robberies over the past year, cops said.
"It's a battle over three things: money, weed and power," a police source told The Post.
The Jamaican posses' role in New York's street-level marijuana market goes back decades - federal agents have long considered them "the most vicious organized-crime group in the United States" who torture victims and casually murder entire families.
But the recent battles have intensified as the gangs struggle to attain an opulent lifestyle - complete with gold jewelry, diamonds and pricey automobiles more associated with powerful cartel leaders than with the kind of mid- and low-level pot retailers that most of the Jamaican dealers really are.
"The Jamaican posses have been around a long time, but only more recently they've been getting greedier - and more violent," said an investigative source, who added that the gangs, which each have about 20 to 30 full members, make about $100,000 a week.
The scope of the new war was revealed when cops charged a member of the John Shop Crew with shooting to death a rival outside a Jamaican community party on the West Side on July 23.
Victim Dane Plummer, 24, a member of the Bloodstains, was a dashing young player in the city's pot-peddling scene, cops said.
Like many posse members, some of whom wear dreadlocks, he worked to affect an image of affluence by making conspicuous displays of wealth, like riding around in a $54,000 Cadillac Escalade, cops said. He was found shot dead in the SUV's driver's seat.
Shooting suspect Kevin Fairclough was busted on Dec. 11 outside a Bronx nightclub. Cops say the war has involved brazen robberies of dealers' hideouts - which then lead to reprisals between the gangs.
Investigators say the gangs are responsible for 12 murders in the last 12 months, including the one in Manhattan, four in The Bronx, three in Jamaica, Queens, two in Elmont, L.I., and two in Mount Vernon, Westchester.
"A lot of the shootings are retaliation," a police source said.
The Jamaican posses are the No. 1 wholesale and street-level pot dealers in New York, according to a study released last month by the National Drug Intelligence Center.
The center declared in a separate 2001 report that the posses are the "most violent" of all drug gangs and were quick to turn to brutality.