Nearly two dozen people are facing criminal charges in a multimillion-dollar drug trafficking ring with a door-to-door delivery service for “good customers” that brought kilos of cocaine and heroin to Long Island every week, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Elvis Castro, 28, of Amityville and Juan Smith, 25, of Valley Stream, were at the helm of the massive ring. They are accused of supplying more than five kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of cocaine to Suffolk County buyers every two weeks. “This, in my view, makes a major dent in the drug trafficking here on Long Island,” Spota said of the bust.
According to authorities, the men would then sell the drugs to mid-level dealers, who would meet them at malls and gas stations along the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway. The so-called mid-level dealers would then sell the drugs to street dealers to be resold across Suffolk County. ”The cocaine and heroin was hand delivered to them [the alleged street dealers] at their houses because they were good customers,” Spota said.
Prosecutors estimated the ring was able to distribute hundreds of thousands of bags of heroin every month. Spota said investigators had seized more than 100,000 bags of heroin during a search of a Brentwood home that was allegedly used only for processing and packaging the drugs. During that search, prosecutors seized more than $200,000 in cash, seven vehicles, 13 loaded handguns, two shotguns and an AR-15 assault rifle, the district attorney said.
Spota said investigators came upon the ring when undercover officers started buying drugs from the street-level dealers and then tracked the chain of command. He said the investigation was complex because the alleged ringleaders would continuously change cell phones. “These are pretty sophisticated individuals,” he said. “They obviously have been doing this for quite some time.”
John Austin, Jr., the assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s operations on Long Island said the drug pipeline began in South America, works through Mexico, into the United States in the Southwest and makes its way to New York. He said that meant the price was dropping and the purity was increasing. Spota said he believes Long Island is seeing a spike in heroin use because of “affluent” communities and drug users who can afford to pay.
Prosecutors said the ring had been serving about 20 customers per day in mid-Suffolk County. Investigators are still combing through evidence and the case remains active, Spota said. He also told reporters that additional arrests were coming.
Castro and Smith, who were both arraigned in July, are being held on $5 million bail, prosecutors said. In total, 22 people have been arrested and charged in connection with the operation. They have all pleaded not guilty.