News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2009
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Public Information Officer
Phone: 212-337-2906

Thirteen Arrested in Heroin Trafficking Operation; Defendants Charged with Possession and Conspiracy to Sell Heroin, Crack and Powder Cocaine

MAR 24 -- LONG ISLAND, NY - JOHN P. GILBRIDE, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division (“DEA”), THOMAS SPOTA, Suffolk District Attorney and Major WALTER HEESCH, commander of Troop L and Sheriff VINCENT DEMARCO announced the arrests of thirteen suspects allegedly involved in the trafficking of large amounts of heroin from Elmhurst, Queens for street sales in western Suffolk.

Ringleaders GILBERTO RIVERA, aka MACHO, 25, of 64 Wilshire Avenue, Oakdale, and FELIX CRUZ, 29, 315 Sutter Avenue, Brooklyn, were arrested Saturday, March 14 after the pair completed a drug transaction in the parking lot of the Islandia Marriott Hotel at 3635 Expressway Drive North.

“Inside their car, detectives recovered $25,000 in cash and 5,000 packets of heroin packaged for street sales,” District Attorney SPOTA said. “Just a few hours later, we executed a search warrant at Mr. Cruz’s property in Queens that we suspected of being his heroin distribution center. Inside the apartment at 32-15 112th Street in East Elmhurst, we found 2,000 bags of heroin packaged for individual sale, thousands of glassine envelopes, scales, a grinder used to cut the heroin with lactose, three loaded handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle stored in Mr. Cruz’s guitar case.”

Both defendants are charged with A- 2 felonies; second degree possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell; Rivera is also charged with third degree criminal possession of a weapon. Gilberto Rivera is being held in lieu of $25 million dollars cash bail or 50 million dollars bond, Cruz is incarcerated in lieu of one million dollars cash bail or three million dollars bond.

Spota said ten search warrants were executed during the course of the investigation that began in September of last year. “We’ve seized approximately 3 kilos of heroin, 350 grams of cocaine, large quantities of oxycodone pills, 50 guns including 13 handguns, 16 shotguns and 21 rifles, and packaging paraphernalia including scales, grinders and stamps these dealers used to label their product with names like Ace of Spades, Underdog and Stop Snitching,” SPOTA said.

Investigators estimate Felix Cruz delivered 10,000 “decks” or approximately two kilos of heroin to Rivera every ten days. Rivera would distribute the heroin locally by using runners for street sales. Among the runners identified by law enforcement are WILLIE J. HART, 8 Dawn Crescent, Central Islip, and EDWARD A. DAVIS, 60 Danbury Street, Bay Shore. Davis, 49, pleaded not guilty to one count of second degree conspiracy at his initial arraignment. He is being held in lieu of $350,000 cash bail or $700,000 bond

Hart, 45, is charged with conspiracy second degree, two counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell (heroin and cocaine), two counts of criminal possession of a weapon third degree (.22 cal revolver and .25 cal handgun), and criminal possession of a controlled substance fifth degree (crack). Hart is incarcerated in lieu of $750,000 cash bail with a bond alternative of $1.5 million.

SPOTA noted $23,000 in cash and the .25 caliber handgun were recovered from a safe in Willie Hart's Central Islip house. Mr. Hart served one year in the county jail in 2005 for a felony drug conviction.

PAUL ORTIZ, 72 Surrey Circle, Shirley, is charged with fourth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance (heroin and cocaine) and is jailed in lieu of one million dollars cash bail with a bond alternative of two million dollars. Ortiz, 29, possessed ten grams of cocaine at the time of his arrest.

Defendant ROLANDO HAMILTON, 53, 1099 Glenmore Avenue, Brooklyn, is a livery driver who regularly chauffeured the New York based-Cruz out to Suffolk County for drug transactions with Rivera. Hamilton is charged with an A-2 felony; second degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Hamilton is in the Suffolk County Jail in lieu of one million dollars cash bail or $2 million bond.

Centerport resident ROBERT PITTELL, 8 Stony Hollow Rd, pleaded not guilty on March 17 to conspiracy second degree (for conspiring with others to sell over one-half ounce of cocaine) and two counts of third degree criminal possession of a weapon. Detectives seized a sawed off shotgun and a .45 pistol from the defendant’s home. Cash bail for Pitell, 50, is $400,000 or $800,000 bond.

Detectives arrested house painter JAMES DEVITO, 31, March 17 at his home at 45 Smith Street, Nesconset. Devito pleaded not guilty to one count of second degree conspiracy and one count of third degree criminal possession of cocaine at his arraignment. Three ounces of cocaine were retrieved from a cabinet above the defendant’s kitchen sink during the execution of a search warrant. Devito is being held in lieu of $500,000 cash bail with a $1.5 million dollar bond alternative.

CORARENE C. SINGH, 29, 8 Dawn Crescent, Central Islip, is charged with second degree conspiracy. Arraigned on March 17, Singh, described as codefendant Willie Hart’s “drug runner” is incarcerated in lieu of $350,000 cash bail or $700,000 bond.