By Ben Fractenberg and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN - A major East Harlem cocaine ring that used the proceeds to buy cars, jewels and guns, was taken down after a 15-month investiation that included wiretaps, officials announced Thursday.
Manhattan prosecutors said in court that the ring was pushing coke wholesale and retail on the Upper East Side and in East Harlem.
Officials said that the group was packing 1,500 bags of cocaine a day. Over a 45 day period, they allegedly sold 4,000 bags for more than $80,000.
Prosecutors said that the dealers would hand out fake business cards with numbers for ordering.
Among the 22 men charged is the alleged boss, Ceferino Perez, 44, and kingpins Nelson Rejab and German Torres, sources said.
The operation was a family affair, prosecutors charged, with Perez's brother, Kelvin and wife, Elsie Detres-Perez helping to package the drugs.
The others busted included an lieutenant, David Rivera, seven workers, a former worker and several baggers, according to the sources.
Investigators allegedly found that Perez had $300,000 in cash stuffed away in a safety deposit box as well as "pounds and pounds" of gold jewlery in the box and in his apartment.
Prosecutors said that there was so much cash packed into the safety deposit box that it was overflowing. They also found $30,000 in his apartment.
Ceferino, who has at least one arrest and served three years for criminal possession of a controlled substance, allegeldy bragged on wiretaps about being involved in the drug trade for "dozens of years."
The suspected kingpin's lawyer Jessica Horani said: "These are very serious accusations. They're trying to paint it as if it's something you see in the movies using words like 'kingpin.' "
He was ordered held without bail.
Perez's brother was picked up driving a Nissan Versa allegedly carrying 600 bags of cocaine.
The investigators also recovered $1 million in drug money, the Manhattan DA's office said.