HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nearly two dozen people were arrested in the takedown of a Long Island heroin and cocaine ring, authorities said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said sales occurred near major Long Island highways, with some regular customers getting home delivery.
The ring’s customers were as young as 22 and as old as 65, Spota said.
Two men accused of being primary suppliers were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine. Juan Smith, 25, of Valley Stream and Elvis Castro, 28, of Amityville were being held on $5 million bail.
“These are pretty sophisticated individuals. They obviously have been doing this for quite some time,” Spota said.
Prosecutors told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff a Brentwood home was used as a heroin packaging mill, with armed work stations, and it all happened right under neighbors’ noses.
Undercover buys, electronic surveillance and wiretaps were used during the investigation, which led to the seizure of more than $200,000 in cash and a dozen firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, Spota said.
In all, 22 were arrested, accused of churning out seven kilos of heroin and cocaine every two weeks, Gusoff reported.
“That heroin, that three and half kilos, would be broken down, would be sold as 100,000 bags of heroin,” Spota said.
Prosecutors said the pipeline begins in Colombia and works it way through Mexico to New York City, then to Long Island, with dealers serving 20 customers per day on the Long Island Expressway service roads and streets near the Sunrise Highway.
The drug bust was one of the largest in Suffolk County this year and more arrests were expected, Spota said.
Drug addiction experts told Gusoff crackdowns help, but more treatment options and education are needed.
“It’s worse today as it has ever been on Long Island and it feels like it’s getting worse each and every day,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, CEO of the Family and Children’s Association.
The Drug Enforcement Administration said heroin is more popular than ever because pill addicts can better afford it.
“There is so much heroin available today due to the Colombians and Mexicans, driving down the price and causing the purity to go up so you don’t necessarily even have to put a needle in your arm. You can snort it,” the DEA’s John Austin Jr. said.
Spota warned that with the latest suspects locked up, anyone who takes over can expect the same dose of justice, Gusoff reported.
It is believed heroin and opiate pills claimed between 200 and 300 lives on Long Island last year alone, Gusoff reported.
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