STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A Staten Island man and a former borough resident played key roles in a cocaine distribution ring which brazenly shipped the drugs via parcel post to Manhattan doormen, who signed for the packages, authorities allege.
Nezer Papraniku, 28, of Sunnyside,
and one-time Sunnyside resident Lulzim Kupa, 35, sent cocaine to Staten
Island and New York from California via FedEx and United Parcel
Service, court papers stated.
The duo had the contraband
delivered to Manhattan apartment buildings, where doormen were bribed to
accept it, authorities said.
The suspects -- Papraniku is known
as "Ziti," Kupa as "Luzi" -- parceled out "large quantities" of cocaine
to distributors on Staten Island, Brooklyn and elsewhere, court records
Besides drug trafficking, Papraniku made bogus credit cards, which he and Kupa sold, legal papers said.
The alleged crimes occurred between 2005 and 2011.
allegedly has ties to reputed mobster Joseph Sclafani of Prince's Bay.
Sclafani was busted in August and accused of running three marijuana
grow houses and a cocaine distribution ring on Staten Island.
who in 1989 harbored a fugitive mobster who killed a federal Drug
Enforcement Administration agent in Charleston, has not been charged in
Papraniku and Kupa have each denied cocaine conspiracy and fraud charges.
whose first name is also spelled "Nezir," has been released from
custody on $1.8 million bond, over the objection of Brooklyn federal
Prosecutors said Papraniku was arrested while en
route to the airport and a flight to Arizona. He had $20,000 in his bag
and a UPS receipt for a package containing $194,000 that Kupa had sent
to Arizona, said court records.
Kupa's bail bid was denied as the court deemed him a danger to the community, documents show.
who now lives in Connecticut, has an extensive criminal history with
convictions for racketeering, fraud conspiracy, marijuana-distribution
conspiracy and weapon possession, said authorities.
racketeering conviction stemmed from Kupa's involvement in a series of
bank burglaries that netted more than $1 million, said court papers.
to those documents, a cooperating witness said Sclafani told Kupa in
2010 to supply the witness cocaine while Sclafani was in prison. The
drugs were to be sold to customers of Sclafani and the cooperator.
2010 and 2011, the cooperating witness bought 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to
22 pounds) of cocaine from Papraniku, Kupa and their conspirators, court
The witness, who communicated with Papraniku
and Kupa, said he received at least five deliveries, court papers said.
Papraniku typically brought the cocaine to the witness' house. The
contraband weighed between 1 and 3 kilograms, prosecutors said.
Besides moving drugs, Papraniku and Kupa also sold phony credit cards, authorities said.
2010, Papraniku bought a machine to make the credit cards, court
documents said. Papraniku and Kupa allegedly sold the fake cards to
Papraniku's lawyer, John J. Rapawy, did not immediately return a telephone call yesterday seeking comment.
Kupa's attorney, Michael Rosen of Manhattan, yesterday declined comment on the allegations.