Dubbed operation “Green Venom,” the feds arrested Kareem (Biggs) Burke after intercepting telephone conversations. According to a federal complaint, Burke and alleged ringleader Geovanny (Manny) Rodriguez Perez discussed “potential marijuana suppliers” in California.
Burke, who co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records with Jay-Z and Damon Dash, was spotted last month in Inwood taking a bag full of “narcotics proceeds” out of Perez’s car and putting it in the trunk of his BMW, the court records show.
Perez, who was looking for new contacts after some of his South Florida suppliers were busted, was also in cahoots with Matthew Woodstock Stang, an ad executive for pot-promoting High Times magazine, according to the indictment.
Stang was caught “discussing the quality of marijuana that Stang’s associates could provide” in telephone calls intercepted over the summer, the papers state.
The members of the ring face 10 years to life if convicted of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilos of marijuana.
“This isn’t just a group that controlled one block, one neighborhood,” said Jim Hayes special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“They dominated the wholesale marijuana market in New York for 20 years.”
And while court papers revealed that Perez dangled a child on his lap during one of his meetings with Burke. Still, he was to be feared.
“He has either wiped out or threatened to wipe out competitors,” Hayes said.
Starting in 1992, Perez’s ring made more than $20 million by trucking tons of marijuana into the city where the dope was split up and distributed by three cells, the papers state.
The marijuana was masked by shipping it in tractor-trailers filled with flowers, a law enforcement source said. The pot was packed into separate boxes marked with an “x,” the source said. Perez paid his suppliers by using couriers who took “commercial flights with large amounts of cash hidden in their luggage,” the papers state.
The investigation that derailed the ring was launched 18 months ago after investigators sniffed out the money trail, the law enforcement source said. In addition to rounding up the ring, the feds seized $1 million in drug profits and 177 pounds of pot.
Burke and Stang appear to be buddies and both have known Perez for some time, court papers show.
High Times editor Dan Skye said Stang “was an ad guy” for the magazine. When asked if he’d heard from Stang since his arrest, Skye replied, “Nope.”