HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nineteen Suffolk County residents have been indicted in a cocaine sweep that led investigators from California to New York.
Last year, Los Angeles law enforcers and Homeland Security agents seized about 44 pounds of cocaine that authorities said was prepared for delivery to a home in Amityville owned by alleged ringleader Juan Funes, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.
“There was a lot of cocaine coming into Suffolk County from California through Mexico,” Spota told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “It was a tremendous amount of cocaine that was going on to the streets.”
Anthony Scandiffio of the U.S. Deparement of Homeland Security said Funes and his associates operated a “complex, multi-state narcotics distribution ring.”
In total 190 officers were going through and conducting search warrants and it was really because of stuff like this,” Spota said, while holding up an assault rifle.
Many of the defendants “hid behind legitimate employment,” including Funes who ran a house cleaning business, Spota said. Others owned a deli and a construction business. A taxi driver, house painter, insurance agent, landscaper and a day trader were also arrested, according to the DA.
“What Funes was doing, he was camoflauging his drug operations behind a legitimate house cleaning operation,” Spota said.
Funes allegedly used vehicles from his house cleaning service to transport the drugs, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported.
As TV 10/55’s Richard Rose reported, prosecutors say drugs were driven from California to Long Island and then hidden in the homes of suspected drug ring leaders.
“They had put it in their bedroom. They cut out holes in the closets where they would keep the cocaine,” Spota said.
There was no answer at the Copiague home of the day trader, Michael Rosati, nor at Funes’ Amityville home.
Six of the suspects are charged with operating as a major drug trafficker, Spota said.
During the operation, Spota said investigators seized $440,000 in cash as well as 19 handguns, 5 shotguns and 15 rifles, including an assault rifle.
Spota said his office worked with federal agents to seize the dozens of weapons.
News of the drug bust upset many residents who live in the upscale community of Amityville.
“This is not what we are all about. Amityville means ‘the friendly village’ and that’s what we are,” one woman said. “I’ve lived here for a long time and it really breaks my heart to see it here again.”
Lindenhurst resident Frank Tabaru was shocked to learn that two of the alleged drug dealers lived on his block. As CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported, he was even more alarmed by the number of weapons seized.
“I’m glad Suffolk County Police were able to confiscate it before anyone got hurt,” he said.
Prosecutors say they will prove their case with evidence from the defendants’ wiretapped phones.
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