Southold Town Police have arrested the two alleged drivers in a street racing incident that saw a pair of exotic sports cars reaching speeds of more than 130 mph on Route 48 between Peconic and Mattituck last month.
Gaston Castro, 35, of Flushing and Mustafa Nayci, 42, of Coram are facing nearly a dozen charges from the July 21 incident. The two men surrendered at Southold police headquarters and were arraigned in town justice court Friday morning.
Appearing before Judge Brian Hughes, both men pleaded not guilty to the charges, including second-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, both misdemeanors, as well as violations for speeding, driving through a red light and passing on the right. Mr. Nayci, the alleged driver of the 2016 Ferrari used in the incident, is also facing a charge of third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, also a misdemeanor.
Attorney Jonathan Manley of Hauppauge, who represented both men at their arraignments, said Mr. Nayci had a conditional license on the date of the incident, which was restored to full privileges four days later.
“We’re taking that back now,” Judge Hughes said in suspending Mr. Nayci’s license again Friday.
The judge lectured both men on the devastating consequences that could have come from the allegations against them.
“Do you know how much a McLaren weighs?” he asked Mr. Manley during Mr. Castro’s arraignment. “I’m going to guess about 3,000 pounds.”
“Three-thousand pounds flying through Route 48, driving in the shoulder is a reckless thing to do,” the judge continued.
Despite Mr. Manley’s request to release both of his clients on their own recognizance, Judge Hughes set cash bail at $1,500 for Mr. Castro and $3,000 for Mr. Nayci, considering his prior license restrictions. A woman who attended the arraignments posted cash bail for both men.
Judge Hughes also suspended Mr. Castro’s license as well as the registration on his 2017 McLaren. He attempted to do the same to the Ferrari allegedly being driven by Mr. Nayci, but Mr. Manley pointed out that the vehicle is registered to a “Ms. Souleiman.” Online business and real estate records show Mr. Nayci shares an address with Ms. Souleiman. They are also both listed as owners of Gotham Smokes in Middle Island. Both vehicles remain at the Southold police impound lot.
In court Friday, Mr. Manley described his clients as business owners, saying Mr. Nayci owns a tobacco shop and Mr. Castro owns a valet parking business. He said both men had prior arrests, though they have a history of appearing in court to answer to the charges against them.
Newspaper reports show Mr. Nayci was arrested in both 2004 and 2009 for selling illegal weapons and drug paraphernalia out of Gotham locations in Middle Island and Huntington. He was also arrested for allegedly selling crack cocaine out of a gas station in Ridge in 2001, according to a report.
The current charges stem from a July 21 incident in which a town police officer reported seeing eight exotic sports cars traveling westbound through Peconic at around the speed limit shortly after 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 14. The two lead vehicles, a blue 2017 McLaren and a red 2016 Ferrari, slowed to about 25 miles per hour, briefly driving side by side before rapidly accelerating to speeds in excess of 130 mph, according to police.
After an officer pursued them with lights and siren engaged, the cars began to slow down, but still maintained speeds of more than 100 mph.
Both the McLaren and Ferrari could later be seen going through a red light at Depot Lane in Cutchogue at more than 80 mph, driving in the shoulder to avoid westbound traffic that was stopped at the light, police said.
At that point, all town patrol units on the road were advised to observe the vehicles if possible, but not to pursue due to the reckless nature of the drivers, police said.
An officer who stopped north and southbound traffic at the Wickham Avenue intersection then saw the two vehicles drive through the red light there, again at a speed of more than 80 mph.
A short time later, a witness who spotted the drivers turn off Route 48 was later able to flag down police near Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck and the two unoccupied vehicles were located on Hallock Lane Extension.
Following a search of the area, the two drivers could not be found.
A license plate frame on the Ferrari reads Empireboyz and the McLaren, registered to Mr. Castro, has a personalized plate that reads “EL1TE.” State records show Mr. Castro is the owner of Empireboyz Inc. El1te is also the name of a car group that hosted a ride to Shelter Island on the day of the street-racing incident.
Social media posts showed vehicles connected with the run to Shelter Island on the South Ferry and later outside Claudio’s Restaurant in Grenport.
Police previously said they were reviewing security camera footage from various locations as part of their investigation.
Both men are due back in court Sept. 27.
Top photo caption: Gaston Castro, left, and Mustafa Nayci are led into court Friday morning. (Credit: Mahreen Khan)