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Press Release

15 Defendants Arrested For Trafficking Crack Cocaine throughout the East End of Long Island

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
13 Face Federal Charges, Two Face State Charges in Takedown of Narcotics Distribution Rings Involving Members of the Bloods Street Gang in Riverhead

Earlier today, three separate indictments were unsealed in federal court in Central Islip charging 12 defendants as part of a coordinated federal and state takedown of several large-scale crack cocaine distribution operations in various areas of the East End of Long Island.  In addition, one defendant was charged in a complaint with possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and possession of crack cocaine.  The defendants facing federal charges were arrested today, arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judges Anne Y. Shields and Steven I. Locke, and all ordered detained pending trial.  Two additional defendants were arrested on related New York state drug charges by members of the East End Drug Task Force.  Three federal defendants remain fugitives. 

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Timothy Sini, District Attorney, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office (SCDA), Geraldine Hart, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), George P. Beach II, Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), David Heggermiller, Chief, Riverhead Police Department (RPD) and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New York Field  Office (ATF), announced the charges.

“The toxic mix of street gangs, drug dealing and illegal firearms poses a direct threat to the safety of our citizens and our community,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The Eastern District and our law enforcement partners in the FBI, ATF and Suffolk County will continue to target, penetrate and destroy criminal gangs that inflict addiction, violence and grief on the people of Suffolk County.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the NYSP Troop L and its Commander, Major David C. Candelaria, for their assistance in the investigation.  

“The epidemic of illegal drugs and associated criminal activity negatively affects individuals and communities across the country, from every background and walk of life,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “As these arrests today demonstrate, the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, along with our federal, state and local partners, will not rest until the individuals and criminal networks responsible for creating this atmosphere of lawlessness and violence are held accountable for their alleged crimes.”

“The defendants as alleged, were part of a ring made up of gang members that spread dangerous narcotics throughout their communities, stated ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Benedict.  “ATF stands with our law enforcement partners as a united front to prevent these illegal narcotics rings from harming our citizens. I would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s office for their work in prosecuting the case.”

“Because of the great collaboration among federal, state and local law enforcement, the East End of Long Island is safer,” stated Suffolk County District Attorney Sini. “My office will continue to work tirelessly with all of our law enforcement partners to eradicate violent street gangs from our communities. I want to particularly applaud the outstanding work done by my office’s East End Drug Task Force and the prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York.”

“The importance of working with our law enforcement partners is evident in the results of the takedown of these crack cocaine distribution operations,” stated SCPD Commissioner Hart.  “These individuals, many of whom are affiliated with the Bloods street gang, have spread narcotics in our communities and have preyed upon the addicted. We will continue to target dealers and dedicate resources to fighting this epidemic.”

“Today’s arrests are the result of an aggressive strategy to stop illegal drug trafficking and keep crack cocaine and other deadly drugs off our streets,” stated NYSP Superintendent Beach.  “Together, with our partners in federal, local and state law enforcement, we can and will stop the infiltration of harmful narcotics into our communities and we will continue to work vigilantly to put dangerous individuals like these gang members behind bars.” 

“The cooperation between agencies in this investigation is unparalleled,” stated RPD Chief Heggermiller.  “Thanks to everyone for their dedication and relentless work protecting our communities here on the East End.” 

As alleged in court filings, in early 2018, members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force and the Suffolk County East End Drug Task Force began conducting an investigation into street gangs and narcotics traffickers operating in and around Riverhead.  The defendants, many of whom were members or associates of the Bloods street gang, were involved in the large-scale distribution of crack cocaine.  Several of the defendants would “cook” powder cocaine into crack cocaine, to increase its potency and street value.  In one instance, while a defendant was cooking cocaine, a child was present in the residence.  Members of law enforcement executed search warrants at multiple locations today, recovering seven firearms, including an AR-15 rifle, three kilograms of cocaine, four pounds of marijuana, a quantity of crack cocaine and heroin and $10,000 in cash.

The charges in the indictments are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The federal cases are being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole Boeckmann and Michael Maffei are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

Terrill Latney (also known as “Motis” and “Mo”)
Age: 39
Riverhead, New York

Romaine Hopkins (also known as “Foo”)
Age: 36 
Riverhead, New York

Matthew Pittma (also known as “Pearl”)
Age:  43
Southampton, New York

Kenneth Belcher (also known as “KB”)
Age: 31
Riverhead, New York

Kotarra jackson (also known as “Red”)
Age: 36
Riverhead, New York

John Gamble (also known as “Bones”)
Age: 37
Shirley, New York

Randy Smith
Age: 33
Riverhead, New York

Deon Shorter
Age:  22
Mastic, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-606 (JS)

Tramaine Brown (also known as “Bootsie”)
Age: 29
Jamesport, New York

Quandol Lewis
Age: 34
Riverhead, New York

Demario Weston (also known as “MK”)
Age:  34
Riverhead, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-604 (JS)

Dayna Barrow (also known as “SI”)
Age: 35
Riverhead, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-605 (JFB)

Daniel Harris
Age:  25
Riverhead, New York

E.D.N.Y. 18-MJ-1112


John Marzulli
Tyler Daniels
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated November 15, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods