Authorities on Long Island have busted a cross-country cocaine ring that was uncovered when federal agents intercepted more than 40 pounds of cocaine in California that was headed to an Amityville home, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Wednesday.
The yearlong investigation of the coast-to-coast drug ring has led to the indictments of 19 people from Long Island. Six of the alleged ringleaders have been charged with operating as a major trafficker – an offense that could land them behind bars for life if they are convicted. They were identified as: Juan Funes, 39, of Amityville, Rafael Rodriguez, 34, of West Babylon, and Juan Santana, 30, Angel Velez-Funes, 26, Victor Nunez, 40, and Elvis Caba, 39, all of Copiague.
Prosecutors said the men were arrested in June when more than 100 federal agents joined local law enforcement officers to raid 16 homes on Long Island. The raids netted $440,000 in cash, more than three dozen firearms – including defaced handguns and assault weapons – as well as a bill counting machine, cell phones, scales and pounds of cocaine and marijuana. Spota said the bust was “a major disruption to the cocaine supply line to Long Island.”
At a Wednesday news conference, Anthony Scandiffio, the deputy special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ operations in New York, said about 44 pounds of cocaine was seized during one of the agency’s investigations in Los Angeles. The drugs were intended for Funes and investigators believe drivers had been bringing them across the country in cars that were outfitted with “traps” to hide the drugs. Spota said district attorney’s investigators had a separate, but similar investigation into Funes at the time and teamed up with federal agents after learning about their California bust.
The combined investigation included wiretaps of 16 phones and surveillance of the alleged drug houses. Spota said detectives learned Funes had been paying about $35,000 per kilo for the cocaine before he resold it to a network of distributors in Suffolk County. Prosecutors couldn’t estimate the purported street value because the drugs had been cut again and again down the line.
All of the suspects pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in June. The cases are continuing. A source said some are also likely to face additional weapons charges.