A drug trafficker died in a gunfight with NYPD, state and federal law enforcement officers in upper Manhattan on Friday night, as a second drug suspect was taken into custody, police said.
Members of a city, state and federal narcotics task force attempted at around 8:40 p.m. to carry out an undercover drug buy from two men in an apartment building at 72 Vermilyea Ave., near W. 204th St. in Inwood.
“There were kilos inside the apartment — huge amounts of drugs,” said a law enforcement source.
The bust went awry when officers moved in to arrest the men, said NYPD Chief of Patrol Jeffrey Maddrey.
“At least one of the males pulled a gun on them and fired at them,” Maddrey said at a late-night news conference.
One of the men was soon caught, Maddrey said. But the second man, wounded, made his way into a first-floor apartment, and police believed he was barricaded inside.
NYPD Emergency Service Unit officers were called. The ESU team included hostage negotiators, Maddrey said.
“Our units tried to make contact,” Maddrey said. “And after some time, when they were unable to make contact, they were able to get a look inside, and they saw the male lying down on the floor.”
When officers finally entered the apartment, “they realized the male had already succumbed to his injuries,” Maddrey said.
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None of the officers injured in the gunfight appeared to be seriously injured, said police. Several officers were taken to local hospitals for evaluation.
A neighbor said the building is known as a narcotics marketplace.
“Everybody knows this is a drug spot,” said the neighbor. “They’re selling everything out of here — coke, heroin, prescription drugs, everything.
“We always call the cops,” the neighbor said. “The cops finally did something about it.”
A Drug Enforcement Administration source said there was a considerable amount of fentanyl involved in the bust.
Besides the NYPD, the operation involved officers from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and New York State Police.
The investigation is continuing, Maddrey said.
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Kerry Burke, Emma Seiwell