East Rockaway resident among six indicted for allegedly distributing heroin in New York City


An East Rockaway man was among five defendants who were indicted in federal court on Wednesday for their participation in a heroin distribution ring that operated in Brooklyn and other areas of New York City. A sixth defendant was arrested and charged in a complaint with possessing heroin as part of the operation.

According to a release from the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Melvin Sanabria, 42, of East Rockaway, was among those charged.

“As alleged in the indictment and complaint, these defendants distributed high purity heroin in our communities, with life-threatening consequences,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said, according to the release. “With today’s arrests, their drug trafficking operation has been dismantled, and the defendants will now face justice for their crimes.”

In addition to Sanabria, Dino Sanchez, 40, Raliek Brown, 36, and Rogelio Vargas, 43, all of Brooklyn, were arrested as part of the ring along with Alex Aybar, 47, of Bayside, Queens. Ramon Sanabria, 48, of South Ozone Park, Queens, was arrested for possession of heroin as part of the operation. It was unclear if there was any relation between Melvin and Ramon Sanabria at press time.

According to the indictment, the defendants regularly acquired kilograms of heroin, which they allegedly processed, repackaged and distributed on the streets of Brooklyn and other areas. They also allegedly routinely tested the quality of the heroin to ensure it was sufficiently potent.

According to the release, on one occasion, as captured in court-authorized messages, Sanchez texted one of the Sanabrias using coded terms to indicate he had a “Bentley” and a “Phantom” for him, comparing the drugs to expensive cars. Thereafter, in a court-authorized intercepted call, Sanabria complained that a subsequent sample Sanchez provided was of inferior quality, and said, “I don’t rent Hondas or Acuras … around here we drive Benz and Lambos.”

Wednesday morning, police officers executed search warrants for three of the defendants’ residences, two additional stash houses and two vehicles, and seized more than four kilograms of heroin, three firearms — including one with a defaced serial number — more than $100,000 in cash and various drug paraphernalia, including over 10,000 glassine envelopes.

Donoghue, William Sweeney Jr. of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill announced the charges. The Attorney Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section is handling the government’s case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Edelman is in charge of the prosecution.

If convicted, the defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years to life in prison.