Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ARMANI CUMMINGS, a/k/a “A1,” and JOSE MUNOZ, a/k/a “Rico,” were found guilty on December 12 of murder, drug trafficking, firearms offenses, and other crimes.
The jury convicted CUMMINGS and MUNOZ on all 14 counts in the indictment following a four-week trial before U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Armani Cummings and Jose Munoz were members of a violent drug trafficking crew who themselves used violence in the extreme. As a unanimous jury found, they murdered three men who were rivals, for control of territory. Thanks to the FBI and the NYPD, Cummings and Munoz will likely never return to any section of Bronx.”
According to court papers and the evidence admitted at trial:
ARMANI CUMMINGS, 23, and JOSE MUNOZ, 26, were members of a crack cocaine distribution organization operating in the Allerton Avenue section of the Bronx, New York, between 2006 and 2012, responsible for the distribution of crack cocaine. CUMMINGS and MUNOZ carried, possessed, and brandished firearms during the period of the charged narcotics conspiracy in order to protect their narcotics and narcotics proceeds, and to ensure that rival drug dealers did not encroach on their territory.
In or about mid-2009, a dispute over narcotics territory in the Allerton area erupted between a drug crew lead by CUMMINGS, and another drug crew. On January 14, 2010, as a result of this drug dispute, CUMMINGS shot and killed 18-year-old Laquan Jones, a/k/a “Bills.” On June 9, 2010, CUMMINGS, along with a criminal associate, shot and killed 45-year old Carl Copeland, a/k/a “Giovanni.” Jones and Copeland were both members of a rival drug crew, and had taken steps to keep CUMMINGS and CUMMINGS’s associates from selling crack in certain locations in the Allerton area.
MUNOZ, a/k/a “Rico,” who had been selling crack in the Allerton area in 2008, was released from jail in or about 2010, and returned to the Allerton area. MUNOZ joined CUMMINGS’s drug crew, and used violence and threats of violence to ensure that drug dealers from outside of Allerton did not sell crack in the area. In that regard, MUNOZ attacked a number of rival drug dealers in 2010, stole their crack, and warned them not to return. On December 31, 2011, while at a New Year’s Eve party, MUNOZ saw one of his drug rivals, Shameek Young, a/k/a “Boom.” Munoz then fired into a crowd of people, and hit Young in the back four times, killing him.
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For their roles in the Allerton Avenue crack cocaine distribution conspiracy, CUMMINGS and MUNOZ were convicted of one count of conspiring to distribute 280 or more grams of crack; and with carrying and possessing guns in connection with, and in furtherance of, the narcotics conspiracy. CUMMINGS was also convicted, in six additional counts, with the narcotics-related murder of Laquan Jones, and of the murder of Carl Copeland. MUNOZ was convicted, on three counts, of the narcotics-related murder of Shameek Young. MUNOZ was also convicted of two counts of robbery, and one count of possessing and brandishing a firearm during, and in relation to, the robbery. CUMMINGS and MUNOZ will be sentenced by Judge Marrero on April 10, 2015. Both face mandatory life sentences.
U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department for their outstanding work in this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hadassa Waxman and Michael Gerber are in charge of the prosecution.