New York Daily News: MANHATTAN – Coldhearted criminals are offering Lower Manhattan bar revelers drugs and then robbing them in a dangerous scheme that has killed at least seven people over the past 14 months, cops said Tuesday.
In one of the patterns, the victims are offered cocaine and marijuana by strangers as they walk out of bars, with the robbers then working to “befriend” their prey, according to Chief of Detectives James Essig.
When the victims accept, they’re robbed of their cell phones. In some cases, the crooks have been able to use cash apps to transfer money out of the victims’ accounts.
“They offer narcotics or marijuana and rob them of their cellphones or manage to transfer a large amount of money from the cellphones to their accounts,” Essig told the Daily News.
There have been 16 victims between September 19, 2021 and August 14, he said. That particular scheme has killed two people.
While the city Medical Examiner has not yet determined the victims’ causes of death, police believe they succumbed to drug overdoses, sources said.
Four suspects have been arrested and are facing charges for the robberies, with police still looking for one other suspect.
Andre Butts, 28, Shane Hoskins, 31, Eddie Ashley, 29, and Robert DeMao, 34, all have prior arrests, police said.
Essig warned that people at bars in Lower Manhattan should be wary of buying drugs on the street.
“The message is, you have to be cognizant of your surroundings,” he said. “Make sure you watch your drink. And if someone is going to offer you drugs, it should be a ‘no’ because you don’t know these people.”
Police believe the pattern has come to an end after the arrests of the four men involved.
“We got a long way to go in this investigation,” Essig said.
A similar scheme has been pinned on a second crew, according to the chief of detectives. But instead of trying to make friends with their victims, the crooks have bumrushed them.
They have victimized 24 people, resulting in five deaths. The causes of death are still being investigated.
Essig said the robbers in the second case take a more brutal approach and don’t attempt to charm their victims.
The men have shoved people to the ground and thrown them against walls before stealing their cell phones and pricey jewelry, usually high-end Rolex watches.
Arrested are Allen Kenwood, 34 and Romel Davis, 24, police said.
“We see no connection against these two separate groups of males except that they are both targeting Lower Manhattan bars,” Essig said. “When you are out in a bar and leaving a bar, be mindful of your surroundings.”
The groups of men have not targeted any specific group of people and their victims have been both men and woman.
Police are continuing to investigate.
“These investigations are tough to prove, but they are two very active investigations,” Essig said.
Top Feature Photo: NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig Ted Shaffrey/AP