Forty people have been indicted in a widespread, multi-million-dollar cocaine-dealing ring that operated out of Hempstead and Rosedale — including at two unlicensed day-care centers — and which reached across the country, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced Monday.
Thirty-three people had been arrested and charged in the case as of press time.
During the coronavirus pandemic, demand for cocaine outstripped supply, causing the price to spike from $32,000 per kilogram in March last year to $55,000 by August, officials said.
Five defendants sold a cocktail of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, Singas said. One defendant cut heroin with fentanyl and morphine.
Data from the county medical examiner’s toxicology lab through last September indicate that fatal overdoses spiked more than 30 percent. Additionally, an opioid was detected in 83 percent of the fatal overdoses involving cocaine.
One defendant allegedly used the mail to send three kilograms of cocaine that were recovered during the investigation, labeled “Operation Honeycomb,” because a large amount of the drugs was stored and packaged at one defendant’s home, which was referred to as the “Honeycomb.”
The district attorney’s office and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began investigating an increase of violence and drug dealing in Hempstead in October 2019. After several drug and gun purchases, the NCDA applied for electronic eavesdropping warrants in February last year to identify large-scale narcotics suppliers in Hempstead.
As the investigation grew, nine individuals emerged as alleged major traffickers, Singas said. The crime of operating as a major trafficker requires the total value of narcotics possessed or sold by the trafficker to exceed $75,000 during a six-month or less period. The charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 25 years to life.
According to prosecutors, drugs were trafficked from as far away as Puerto Rico, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
With search warrants and car stops, investigators recovered:
Thirty-eight firearms, including assault weapons and ammunition
Some 9.5 kilograms of nearly pure cocaine – roughly 31,000 doses
About 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine – or 5,000 doses
More than one kilogram of heroin – 36,000 doses
250 grams of fentanyl – enough for 36,000 fatal doses
210 grams of morphine – roughly 42,000 doses
Over $380,000 in cash
“This massive multi-agency takedown strikes a heavy blow to the narcotics trafficking infrastructure in our region,” Singas said.
The arrests were the result of an 18-month investigation by the NCDA; Federal Bureau of Investigation Long Island Gang Task Force; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Long Island Field Division; Nassau County Police Department; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; New York State Police; and Drug Enforcement Administration.
The task force includes members of the FBI, New York State Police, NCPD, Suffolk County Police, Hempstead Police and Rockville Centre Police, as well as the Nassau County and Suffolk County sheriff’s departments.
William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI New York, said, “The scourge of illegal narcotics trafficking, and the violence associated with it, has plagued our communities for far too long.”
Senior Investigative Counsels Patrick Brand and Lee Genser of the D.A. office’s Major Case Bureau are prosecuting the case.