HAUPPAGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It was something out of a James Bond movie.
Fancy cars with secretly built compartments, concealing stashes of illegal drugs, were driven from California to Long Island, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports.
The eight high-end vehicles, including a Mercedes, BMW and two Cadillac Escalades, were more than luxury models. They were drug-running cars, containing gizmos and gadgets concealing secret compartments, chiseled out seats and floorboards and airbags ripped out so cocaine could be packed, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. Stashes of steroids were found in empty consoles. Cash was found in panels where cushions once protected passengers.
“Use your imagination. Any way you can think of, the drug dealers think of. Car carriers are not the only way that they move drugs. It happens to be what they used in this case,” said Detective Sgt. William Burke of the Suffolk County Narcotics Squad.
Police said wire taps, surveillance and search warrants led them to four Suffolk County men — Robert Perticone, Richard Occhino, Theodore Katsanos and Jose Tejada. An arrest warrant has been issued for a fifth suspect, William Wright, from West Hollywood, Calif. Spota called him the “major kingpin” and “prime architect” of the alleged drug ring.
The suspects allegedly made many millions marketing illegal narcotics to Long Island at five times what they paid to a Mexican cartel. The cocaine was smuggled across the border to Los Angeles and then, using car carrier trucks, hundreds of kilos of cocaine were driven to Deer Park and hidden in the car traps.
McLogan noted that in one souped-up SUV, the parking brake could be activated, the seatbelt engaged and remote key fob pressed, signaling the hydraulic lift to open a secret compartment in back.
When undercover cops discovered the hidden traps they recovered millions in cash, cocaine, steroids and shotguns.
“This is one we’ve ever had in Suffolk County,” Spota said. “This is a huge dent in the cocaine trade in Suffolk County.”
Spota said NYPD stickers, and even rosary beads couldn’t help the crooks hide their cocaine.
The four suspects told a judge they are innocent. The district attorney said they could face 25 years to life.
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