Members of a joint law enforcement group have arrested 15 people and seized $1.2 million worth of heroin in connection with what is said to have been the largest heroin trafficking operation in the history of Nassau County, officials announced Tuesday.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, and the Long Island Heroin Taskforce.
According to officials, 15 people have been indicted, including three major traffickers for their role in a drug operation that spanned across Long Island and into Kings and Queens Counties.
Joseph Melito of Albertson, who was also identified as an alleged ringleader by law enforcement, was among those arrested.
“We are in the midst of a serious nationwide addiction crisis, and every single bust makes a difference,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “I applaud our dedicated law enforcement officials and the Long Island Heroin Taskforce for their collaborative efforts and success in taking down these major drug traffickers, dismembering the largest known heroin trafficking operation in Nassau County.”
According to a press release sent out by the district attorney’s office on Tuesday, a total of 88,000 individual doses of heroin, 1,024 grams of cocaine, and an additional $1,214,093 were seized during the four-month-long investigation.
Additionally, three bank accounts with $262,900 were subsequently frozen.
“This organization was making millions of dollars from heroin sales, encouraging opioid abuse throughout Long Island and New York City,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan.
Singas said that her office joined forces with the Nassau County Police Department and the task force to begin investigating an alleged heroin operation with customers stretching as far west as New York City.
Officials said that Of the ring’s 74 customers, 54 have been identified as coming from Nassau County, 16 from Suffolk County and five from New York City.
During the investigation, police identified alleged ringleaders of the operation to be Luis Rivera and Orlando Rodriguez.
Officials claim that the two allegedly sold upwards of 26,000 individual doses of heroin to those 74 customers per month. Calculations show that Rivera and Rodriguez roughly profited $30,000 a week and totaled $230,000 in narcotic sales, officials said.
Officials claim that heroin originally distributed by Rivera has been linked in conjunction with fifteen overdoses across Nassau and Suffolk Counties, three of which were fatal.
“It is alleged that this criminal enterprise flooded Nassau County street with heroin, with Rivera being connected to more than a dozen overdoses, three of which resulted in death,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York. “Law enforcement continues to come together with the common goal of protecting our communities and ridding the streets of those bringing in the highly addictive and, in some cases, deadly drugs.”
Law enforcement officials reportedly executed search warrants on Rivera and Rodriguez’s shared Brooklyn residence on Dec. 13. Inside, officials say that over 900 grams and 5,800 individual glassines of heroin, 33 grams of cocaine, and over $383,000 in cash was seized from the house.
While searching in an alleged stash house in Flushing and a Honda Pilot, officials said they seized 800 grams and over 27,000 glassines of heroin, almost 1,000 grams of cocaine, and $165 in cash.
“Our combined efforts have taken these drugs and their dealers off the streets, making it more difficult for drugs to get in the hands of our residents, thus making our communities even safer,” Ryder said.
Rivera and Rodriguez were each charged with 25 counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree, and are due back in court on Dec. 27. If they are ultimately convicted on their individual charges, all three could face 25 years to life in prison, according to officials.
Officials said the investigation remains ongoing and additional charges are likely.