Twenty Alleged Members of a Heroin Trafficking Organization Indicted on Long Island
Indictment Charges the Perez Organization Distributed Heroin Throughout Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties
Stash Houses Located in Brooklyn, Queens and Roosevelt, New York
An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip, New York, charging 20 members of the Perez Organization, an alleged district-wide drug trafficking ring, with conspiracy to distribute heroin.1 According to the indictment and a detention letter filed by the government, the organization’s leadership was centralized in Woodhaven, Queens, with distribution networks in Nassau and Suffolk counties and a storage facility in Brooklyn. The organization’s members were allegedly responsible for distributing over 20 kilograms of heroin, with a street value of at least $2.75 million, to drug dealers in Long Island and Queens during the past nine months. The defendants were arrested earlier today, and their arraignments are scheduled this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown, at the United States Courthouse, 100 Federal Plaza, Central Islip, New York.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, and Thomas V. Dale, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department.
The indictment and arrests are the product of a nine-month joint investigation (“Operation County Connection”) by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), with assistance from the Suffolk County Police Department, the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service, Eastern District of New York. The investigation was initiated, in part, in response to the increased rate of heroin use on Long Island.
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents monitored hundreds of hours of court-ordered wiretaps, which documented numerous purchases and sales of heroin by the defendants, and conducted numerous controlled purchases of heroin. During the investigation, more than 5,400 individual doses of heroin were recovered from members of the Perez Organization, which were otherwise destined to reach the streets of communities in this district. The agents also executed search warrants at four heroin storage locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Roosevelt, New York, resulting in the seizure of, among other things, heroin with a street value of over $30,000 and thousands of dollars in cash.
The government’s investigation exposed the depth and breadth of heroin trafficking activity in the Eastern District of New York, as the Perez Organization’s alleged reach stretched across community and demographic boundaries. Among the defendants charged in this case are: Roland Stern, a retired Suffolk County Marine Bureau Police Officer, and his daughter Corey Stern; Tina and Matthew Catrini, a married couple; Kathryn Pappas, a college student; and Dana Sollecito, who allegedly sold heroin from the parking lot of the “Corner Gallery,” her family’s restaurant in Massapequa.
“The charges and arrests announced today have ended the activities of an alleged heroin distribution organization whose members were drawn from a variety of backgrounds but were united by common cause – profiting personally while seriously endangering the lives of so many residents in our communities,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This office is committed to using coordinated law enforcement techniques to rid our streets and neighborhoods from the scourge of heroin and other controlled substances. We will not end this pursuit until our mission is accomplished.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to each of the agencies that participated in the investigation leading to today’s arrests and added that the investigation is continuing.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk stated, “As alleged in the indictment, the Perez Organization was responsible for a significant portion of the heroin distributed on Long Island. Heroin use among suburban teens is alarmingly popular, and today’s heroin is more potent and less expensive than ever. A potentially lethal dose can be purchased for about the cost of a pack of cigarettes or a six-pack of beer. The FBI and our partners are determined to stem the flow of a poison responsible for far too many needless deaths. ‘Operation County Connection’ is the new task force’s first major investigation to result in charges and arrests, but it will hardly be the last.”
Nassau County Police Commissioner Dale stated, “This operation highlights how successful law enforcement can be working in collaboration. We as a team have taken down an alleged major heroin ring that was plaguing Nassau County. Heroin is a significant concern here on Long Island. The NCPD has a three-prong approach for dealing with this issue: prevention, redirection and enforcement. We could not have achieved these enforcement results without the assistance of our partners. I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, the Suffolk County Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service for all their hard work and dedication over the last nine months.”
If convicted of the heroin distribution conspiracy charge, each of the defendants faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Charles N. Rose and Licha M. Nyiendo.
JOSE PEREZ, also known as “Jay,” “Ule,” and “Fat Boy”
NORBERTO RODRIGUEZ, also known as “JR”
WILFRED CASTILLO, also known as “E” and “EZ”
JOSE TAVERAS, also known as “Junior”
RAFAEL PICHARDO, also known as “Ralphy”
WILLIAM BAEZ, also known as “Billy”
LEONARDO LOPEZ, also known as “Leo”
SEAN BRUNETTE, also known as “White Boy”
ANDERSON TAVERAS, also known as “Andy”
KENNETH SUAREZ, also known as “Kenny”
TINA CATRINI, also known as “Tina Bonghi”
JOSEPHINE JAVIS, also known as “Josephina”
ROLAND STERN, also known as “Pops”
FELIX VARGAS, also known as “Pun” and “Bori”
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