May 15, 2020 – Retired New York drug lord Myles Coker died of the Coronavirus this week at 69. The gentlemanly former heroin baron was co-founder of the Blue Thunder narcotics organization, affiliated with the Italian mob’s Bonanno crime family in the 1980s and early 1990s. Coker stood trial in 1994 in federal court alongside future Bonanno don Vincent (Vinnie Gorgeous) Basciano.

Coker was convicted. Vinnie Gorgeous walked.

Blue Thunder was the brand-name of the heroin sold by Coker and his partner, Eric (E.J.) Millan. The Blue Thunder crew was a multi-ethnic blend of Puerto Rican, African-Americans and Italians and shipped their heroin across several parts of New York and out of state to cities such as Boston, Baltimore and Detroit.

Coker, who owned a limousine company with a celebrity client list, had worked as a bookie for a Bonanno-connected sports-betting business in the Bronx before transitioning into the drug game in the mid-1980s with financing from his mafia contacts. The feds’ “Operation Thunderdome” assault resulted in a series of busts, starting with Coker’s arrest in August 1991 and lasting all the way until the ninth superseding indictment dropped in October of the following year, and left hand-prints of police misconduct.

When the DEA raided Coker’s home, they found meticulously kept logs of Blue Thunder crew affairs. He was described by the FBI agents that made the Operation Thunderdome case as a “gentleman gangster.” At first, he pleaded guilty in the case, then after the police misconduct was revealed at a mistrial of his co-defendants in March 1993, he was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Coker eventually went to trial and was convicted.

Originally slapped with a life term, Coker got resentenced and was released in 2014 after 23 years in prison. In recent years, Coker had worked for a pest-control company and stayed out of trouble.

Eric Millan was released from his life sentence last month. Prior to starting the Blue Thunder crew with Coker, the 58-year old Millan was enrolled in a pharmacology program at St. John’s University.

Gangland News broke the story of Millan’s release this week. The Millan-Coker regime was considerably more low-key and stealth than the big-time heroin organizations of New York’s past run by more flamboyant, high-profile bosses like Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas.

The dapper and suave Basciano, 61, ran the Bonanno crime family from 2004 until 2011. Today, Bronx-native Basciano resides in the Big Sandy federal correctional facility in Kentucky, found guilty of two gangland murders and alleged to have put out a hit on his prosecutor.    

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