Fourteen people were recently arrested for their alleged involvement in a drug ring that led to the death of a Garden City Park woman last year, Nassau County prosecutors announced last Friday.
A 15-month investigation by Nassau County police, the Nassau district attorney’s office and the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force led to the breakup of a major operation that allegedly sold at least $170,000 of heroin a week in Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn, prosecutors said.
Helped by a retired NYPD detective, the alleged ringleader, Leigh “Chris” Jackson, sold heroin out of Bushwick, Brooklyn, branded as “Taster’s Choice” that allegedly caused several overdoses, including one that killed the 23-year-old Garden City Park woman in June 2016, prosecutors said.
“This operation followed an alleged street-level dealer back to a major narcotics trafficking network that was dealing more than 20,000 doses of heroin each week in our neighborhoods,” Madeline Singas, the Nassau County district attorney, said in a statement. “Our collaborative, multifront assault on heroin dealers has led to more than 50 arrests in the past month alone and we will not rest until this epidemic is over.”
Authorities also seized two guns, ammunition, about $12,000 in cash, 1,000 prepackaged bags of heroin and more loose heroin that would have added up to 2,000 more bags, the DA’s office said.
Jackson and three other alleged dealers — James Bermudez, Maurice Pelzer and Robert Parker — could get 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, operating as a major trafficker.
The dealers allegedly packaged and sold the “Taster’s Choice” heroin to lower-level sellers using barber shops and auto shops in Bushwick as distribution points, the DA’s office said in a news release.
Two of the alleged lower-level dealers, Hamilton “Rico” Croft and Roger “Butta” Liburd, both of Elmont, sold the packaged doses in Nassau County, prosecutors said.
Jackson also allegedly supplied heroin to Omari “King Supreme” Sander and Russell King, both Queens men who sold doses in Queens and Nassau. When he was arrested, King had more than 60 grams of heroin, packaging material, grinders, scales and three different stamps on him, prosecutors said.
Pelzer, Bermudez and Robert “Hopp” Parker also allegedly bought heroin from Jackson and sold it to their own customers, the DA’s office said. Bermudez mostly sold doses out of state, and Pelzer’s customers were largely in upstate Putnam County, prosecutors said.
Karan Young, a retired NYPD narcotics detective, allegedly helped Jackson collect money. She worked for Delta Airlines at LaGuardia Airport at the time of her arrest, prosecutors said.
Jackson had an NYPD badge in a case that said “Detective’s Husband” on it when he was arrested April 26, Nassau prosecutors said.
“These arrests should be a stark reminder that we will investigate and arrest those responsible for this illegal activity to keep our communities safe,” Thomas Krumpter, the acting Nassau County police commissioner, said in a statement.
As of Friday, 12 of the 14 defendants had been arraigned, one was awaiting arraignment and another had yet to be arrested, prosecutors said.
Twelve others were arrested during the course of the investigation, the DA’s office said.
David W. Haber, Jackson’s Mineola-based attorney, denied the allegations and said he would be asking prosecutors to present more evidence of the charges in court.
“At this point we really haven’t seen any evidence indicating that the allegations that they’ve made against him are true,” Haber said.