A big-time rap mogul has landed in big-time trouble with the feds. Kareem “Biggs” Burke, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, which launched the career of superstar rapper Jay-Z, was among 43 people arrested today in a massive drug sweep spanning from New York to South Florida, authorities said. Also nabbed was Matthew Stang, a writer and senior ad rep at High Times magazine, a well-known chronicle of chronic culture. “In the case of the High Times employee, it’s a case of art imiitiating real life,” said Jim Hayes special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Burke was nabbed early this morning by ICE agents at his home in North Bergen, NJ, Hayes said. The 18-month investigation into the vast narcotics network – headed by Geovanny “Manny” Rodriguez Perez – resulted in $1 million in seized profits and 177 pounds of marijuana, Hayes said. At least another seven people are expected to be arrested as a result of the operation, dubbed “Green Venom,” he said. Investigators used state and federal wiretaps to catch the drug smugglers, authorities said. Over the last 20 years, Perez used violence to intimidate competitors, according to authorities.
“He has created a super drug distribution network that has controlled the marijuana market in NYC,” Hayes said. Perez is suspected of being involved with the New York City drug trade since the 1990s — using couriers with vehicles to move the product and planes to transport the ill-gotten proceeds. “It was transported in bulk from Florida to New York. From there it was divvied up among three main cells in the NYC-area and distributed to their clients,” Hayes said. “Right now we are focused on taking down the network and, as the investigation continues, we want to make sure that other rival networks or other co-conspirators cannot use the same tools.” Agencies participating in the multi-jurisdiction investigation include ICE, the DEA, the city’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutors and the city’s Department of Investigations.