(he might be dead, but Stringer’s innovations still inform the real world)

Life imitating art imitating life, as told by Newsday’s Rocco Parascandola.

A Queens cocaine crew busted Friday played it close to the vest to avoid arrest — even mimicking their reel life counterparts on “The Wire,” the HBO crime drama in which dealers regularly toss their cell phones in the trash, police said.

The one woman charged in the case, Melissa Wakefield, 26, has an apparent infinity for high-end shoes, such as Prada and Gucci. Police found more than 100 pairs of footwear, valued at more than $25,000, in her Astoria home, as well as more than $500,000 in cash.

Still, she collected a regular welfare check, police said. Her role, police said, was to register in her name the high-end vehicles other suspects purchased.

All told, police recovered during Friday’s pre-dawn arrests 43 kilos of cocaine, valued at $1 million on the street, and 18 guns, including two under a mattress in the Roosevelt, L.I., home of suspect Castell Brown.

Police said Brown does subcontracting work for schools in Nassau County and that despite his $22,638 salary he had two Lincoln Navigators and a Lexus.

It wasn’t easy, Rodriguez said, in part because the suspects, particularly Brown, are big fans of “The Wire.”

It appears, Rodriguez said, that the suspects learned some tricks from the show, switching to new cell phones after limited use and forcing police to re-apply for wiretaps.

“We gotta dump our phones, we gotta dump our phones,” Rodriguez quoted Brown as saying on a wiretap. “It made our job so much harder. Every time they got hinked up, they’d drop all of them in a heartbeat.”