Heroin Routes Shut Down, 14 Indicted
DEC 16 - (Rochester, N.Y.) — JOHN P. GILBRIDE, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division Drug Enforcement Administration and THOMAS SPOTA, Suffolk District Attorney announced on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 that a six-month multi-agency Heroin Task Force enforcement effort resulted in the arrests and indictment of fourteen people on conspiracy charges, including three New York City men, for selling heroin, cut and packaged in Brooklyn, for street sales in Suffolk. Second degree conspiracy is a class “B” felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-In-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division ("DEA"), said "These arrests show the continued commitment by all the law enforcement agencies involved to work together to remove dangerous drugs and the people and organizations that peddle them on our streets and in our communities. We remain vigilant and steadfast in our resolve to eradicate the heroin scourge plaguing our community. Today's arrests are a small step in solving a bigger problem."
At a Hauppauge press conference, District Attorney Spota, joined by Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Assistant-Special-Agent-In-Charge John Austin, Major Walter Heesch, Commander of Troop L, NY State Police, and Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, said seven search warrants were executed and 31 people have been arrested on drug charges.
Juan Muniz, 32, of 94-17 110th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens and his brother Carlos Muniz, 36, of 2304 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, have each pleaded not guilty to felony criminal sale of a controlled substance charges. “The Muniz brothers operated a heroin distribution ring out of an apartment complex on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, the street address of which the defendant Juan Muniz had tattooed on the knuckles of his left hand,” Spota said. Using undercover detectives, electronic surveillance and wiretaps, task force investigators learned the Muniz brothers, operating from the Atlantic Avenue address, adhered to a strict customer protocol to be followed requiring their customers call from the Jackie Robinson Parkway first before arriving at the apartment complex to pick up heroin. Upon arriving, Muniz customers were required to call again, and call a third time after the pick-up to advise that they were on the Jackie Robinson Parkway returning to Long Island.
Spota noted “The Muniz heroin enterprise is also notable by its marketing bravado, offering eleven bags of heroin to purchasers of their heroin bundles – packages of heroin bundled for sale that commonly contain 10 bags”.
Search warrants executed at 2304 Atlantic Avenue with the assistance of the New York City Police Department led to the recovery of 35 bags of heroin Carlos Muniz threw out the window of his apartment, and the confiscation of police radios, scanner equipment and a bulletproof vest.
Written records of transactions and a dagger were confiscated from Juan Muniz’s residence in Richmond Hill as were two cell phones Mr. Muniz threw out his third-story window when task force personnel arrived at the scene. Juan Muniz is incarcerated in the Suffolk County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail; Carlos Muniz is being held in lieu of $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. Both men are charged in an indictment with second degree conspiracy, second degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Juan Muniz is a prior felony offender and when apprehended by task force investigators had an active felony narcotics warrant for his arrest wherein he forfeited $15,000 cash bail.
Carlos Sanchez, 33, of 125 Palmetto Street in Brooklyn operated the second heroin distribution enterprise taken down during the investigation. Sanchez, who shared some customers with the Muniz brothers, often sold the heroin to Long Island customers by pre-arranged rendezvous’ at a Brooklyn gas station parking lot. Detectives arrested Sanchez at the gas station where he was found to be carrying 177 bags of heroin waiting for a customer A search warrant executed at his residence resulted in the recovery of 177 bags of heroin. Sanchez has been indicted on one charge of second degree conspiracy to distribute heroin and two counts of third degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
In Suffolk County defendant Michelle Atkinson, 32, of West Babylon, is charged with one count of second degree conspiracy, second degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Ms. Atkinson is alleged to have sold heroin in Suffolk County that she purchased in Brooklyn, spending, over a period of six months, approximately $72,000 to buy sleeves of heroin and in turn selling the drug in Suffolk for more than double the price. Atkinson operates a towing business in the Ronkonkoma area.
“She averaged the purchase of 5 sleeves of heroin, or about 500 bags, per week from both Brooklyn suppliers,” DA Spota said.
Ms. Atkinson’s roommate, Denise Ward, 40, is charged with second degree conspiracy.
A Nesconset man, Lee Colfin, 27, was arrested last month at a gas station on Route 347 in Smithtown. Colfin is indicted on one count of second degree conspiracy to distribute heroin and two counts of third degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. He is being held in lieu of $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond.
District Attorney Spota said Colfin “was observed selling heroin at a gas station and at fast food outlets in Smithtown to customers as young as 17.” Task Force investigators seized 77 bags of heroin, packaging materials and hypodermic needles stored in a safe in his residence at 27 Leary Lane.
Glenn Second, 47, of 69 Penny Street in West Islip is charged with second degree conspiracy to distribute heroin and two counts of third degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. He is being held in lieu of $75,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. Seventy bags of heroin, 20 of them in Second’s shoes, and another 50 bags in his home, were confiscated by task force investigators.
District Attorney Spota said the task force, which reported the largest heroin seizure in Suffolk County history in August when 17 pounds of uncut heroin packaged in shoe insoles were seized from two men at a Melville hotel, will continue to use surveillance, undercover detectives, and court-approved wiretaps to battle the heroin networks plaguing the metropolitan region. “Our partners in federal and state law enforcement make it possible to work across jurisdictional boundaries to track dealers and seize their product, a drug that is cheap, potent and deadly,” DA Spota said.