Gang re-emerges moving weed in jets
- Last Updated: 6:16 AM, February 20, 2012
- Posted: 2:33 AM, February 20, 2012
The Westies are back — with a twist.
Manhattan’s former “Irish Mafia’’ gang — long infamous for running loan-sharking and extortion rackets out of the tenements of Hell’s Kitchen through the early 1990s — has suddenly resurfaced with a highly sophisticated scheme using a fleet of superfast private jets to smuggle high-grade marijuana from California to cities across the country, authorities said.
“It’s rare to run into an organization that’s wealthy enough and sophisticated enough to pull it off” — but they’re doing it, one law-enforcement source said.
At the helm of the gang’s Manhattan operation is John Bokun, whose uncles, Billy and namesake John, were Westies before the neighborhood became gentrified by pricey co-ops and wine bars, authorities said.
The younger Bokun lives in what is now known as the West Side’s Clinton neighborhood and is accused of teaming up with a California drug organization to use his Dassault Falcon executive jet to distribute top-grade hydroponic marijuana across the country, records show.
He was recently indicted by Long Island federal prosecutors on marijuana-trafficking charges.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents said they secretly observed Bokun loading his Falcon at an airport near the so-called “Emerald Triangle” — the green, vast pot-growing region nestled in northern California’s Coast Mountains, 100 miles north of San Francisco, an official report says.
ICE agents were waiting for him as he stepped off his private jet after it landed in Farmingdale, LI, and they watched as the plane was unloaded, Assistant US Attorney Christopher Ott recently told a federal judge. Authorities seized $500,000 worth of marijuana.
The group’s methods are ingenious, according to various investigators.
“Every time you drive a tractor-trailer through the country, there are state troopers and local cops looking for a lane-change [violation], a busted tail light, speeding,” one source said. Using private jets “reduces their exposure to law enforcement.”
The jets also allow the group to deliver an extremely powerful grade of marijuana to affluent customers willing to pay more for it before it begins losing its punch, as is common during long truck runs from the West Coast, a source said.
Bokun’s lawyer, Joseph Conway, said, “Mr. Bokun has entered a not-guilty plea, and he looks forward to addressing all of the charges in court.”