A brutal drug gang blamed by investigators for as many as 30 grisly
murders - including the disembowelment of one victim and torture of
another with a construction nail - has been smashed after a seven-year
reign of terror, city investigators said yesterday.
So vicious was the gang known to city police as the Wild Cowboys
that no one who angered them was spared their murderous bent. City
prosecutors say they killed drug rivals, witnesses, informants - even
members of their own organization who dared to cross their leaders.
In one dramatic battle over drug turf, three bystanders died in a
spray of semiautomatic gunshots fired by reputed gang members shortly
before Christmas, 1991, narcotics cops said.
"This gang was so vicious and quick on the trigger . . . They were
able to strike fear in the hearts of rival drug dealers and expand their
territory," said Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.
Indictments unsealed yesterday at State Supreme Court in Manhattan
charged 35 gang members with a range of crimes, including 10 murders,
conspiracy to distribute narcotics, possession and sale of narcotics,
attempted murder, assault and weapons charges. By yesterday, 28 of the
alleged gang members were in custody. Twelve were arrested late Tuesday
and early yesterday.
The gang allegedly was run by Lenin Sepulveda, 25, and his brother
Nelson, 26, who reportedly fled the country and is in hiding in his
native Dominican Republic. Lenin Sepulveda was arrested several months
ago in connection with one of the alleged murders.
"The Wild Cowboys are corralled," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly
said yesterday at a news conference in Manhattan to announce the
City prosecutors said the gang ran a $16-million-a-year operation
from 348 Beekman Ave. in the Bronx, after establishing its Manhattan
headquarters in 1986 at the corner of 171st Street and Audubon Avenue in
While the indictment identifies 10 homicides allegedly committed by
gang members in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn, city prosecutors said
they think it's just the tip of the iceberg in an ongoing murder
"We think this gang is responsible for an additional 20 homicides,"
said Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
One of the suspects rounded up was Marilyn Perez, a police officer
in the Bronx before she was fired in 1989 after four years on the job
for flunking a department-administered drug test, police said. Perez,
38, is charged with conspiracy in connection with the drug ring.
In a two-year investigation, subsidized by a federal grant to clean
up narcotics trafficking in drug-infested city neighborhoods, undercover
officers purchased 7,000 crack vials and seized 20 guns and $52,000 in
cash. Yesterday, as the last of the suspects were rounded up, officers
seized additional cash and drugs, as well as a bullet-proof vest
belonging to one of the reputed gang members.
Nine of those charged were responsible for the 10 murders, including
Lenin Sepulveda, who is named in one murder count. Five of the
Sepulvedas' alleged enforcers are accused of taking part in eight of the
In one particularly gruesome killing, three reputed members of the
group killed fellow gang member Eddie Maldonado on Nov. 7, 1991, in St.
Mary's Park in the Bronx by stabbing and slashing him until he was
"It started as a stabbing, and went beyond that," Johnson said.
Murders Pegged to Gang
Some of the gruesome murders allegedly committed by the members of the
Sept. 3, 1989. Eight reputed members of the gang surround four
members of a rival organization at 141st Street and Beekman Avenue and
open fire, killing two.
May 12, 1991. Oscar Alvarez, described by police as a gang member,
is tortured on the roof of 592 E. 141st St. in the Bronx by fellow gang
members over the alleged theft of drug money. Alvarez' eye is gouged by
a nail before he is killed.
Nov. 7, 1991. Reputed gang member Eddie Maldonado is stabbed dozens
of times in a dispute with three other Cowboys. He is stabbed repeatedly
in the back and, in the process, disemboweled before being left to die.
Dec. 16, 1991. Gang members ambush a rival faction selling crack out
of an alley near 320-340 Beekman Ave. in the Bronx, the Cowboys' home
turf. A spray of bullets kills three bystanders and one rival. The
murderous outburst triggers a broad police investigation that results in
the indictment of 35 gang leaders and associates.
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