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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 13, 2022

Ronkonkoma Man Indicted for Fentanyl Pill Conspiracy

Defendant Sold Counterfeit Opioids Containing Fentanyl

An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip charging Fernando Cooper, also known as “Pablo,” with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute in Suffolk County more than 40 grams of fentanyl, which was contained in counterfeit opioid pills.  Cooper, who was already in custody on state fentanyl charges, is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Rodney K. Harrison, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), and Raymond A. Tierney, Suffolk County District Attorney, announced the indictment and charges. 

“As alleged, Cooper manipulatively sold and marketed counterfeit opioid pills laced with fentanyl, a dangerous narcotic that is responsible for many deaths in Suffolk County,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “Opioid addiction and fatal drug overdoses remain a significant threat to our communities and this Office is working closely with our law enforcement partners to protect the public by prosecuting fentanyl traffickers who callously conceal that deadly drug in counterfeit pills that could easily kill unsuspecting users.”

“Drug dealers are pushing products with no care for the dangerous substances in them, placing financial gain over human life,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.  “We allege Cooper sold pills he knew were laced with fentanyl, which is responsible for the spike in overdose deaths here and across the nation.  These dealers will be held accountable for the carnage they are leaving behind.”

“The illicit sale and distribution of fentanyl has taken countless lives across our region and the unsealing of this indictment should strike fear into the heart of anyone who considers buying opioids in any form on the black market,” stated SCPD Commissioner Harrison.  “I am proud of the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department and our partner agencies for their tireless work in this case. We will continue to take aggressive action to hold dangerous drug dealers, like this individual who was peddling counterfeit opioid pills, accountable as we work to curb this ongoing scourge in our communities.”

“This defendant allegedly sold deadly counterfeit opioid pills to unsuspecting users,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Tierney.  “Thanks to our partnership with all of our law enforcement agencies, this individual is no longer peddling this poison to our residents. I want to especially thank U.S. Attorney Peace for spearheading the prosecution of these important cases.”

As alleged in the indictment and court filings, between December 2021 and July 2022, Cooper sold and possessed with intent to sell more than 500 counterfeit opioid pills that contained approximately 56 grams of fentanyl, but that were made to resemble Percocet and 30-milligram oxycodone pills, which are in great demand by opioid addicts.  In July 2022, Cooper sold approximately 223 counterfeit opioid pills, containing about 28 grams of oxycodone to another person in Bohemia, New York and, days after that sale Cooper was found in possession of 119 counterfeit opioid pills that contained around 14 grams of fentanyl, which were recovered after he fled from the police following a traffic stop and hid in a Central Islip backyard.  Execution of a search warrant on cellphones that were seized from Cooper revealed that he was a member of the Hit Squad street gang and that he worked with other individuals to sell and possess with intent to sell fentanyl contained in counterfeit or “pressed” opioid pills in Suffolk County. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Justice, in 2019, nearly 71,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. The increase in overdose deaths has been driven in large part by fentanyl – a drug that has been described as 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.  In 2019, over 14,000 people died in the United States from a drug overdose involving heroin.  From 2013 to 2019, the synthetic opioid death rate increased by more than 1,000 percent.  Of those deaths, over 70% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.  Among New York State residents, the number of overdose deaths involving any opioid increased each year between 2010 and 2017, with an overall increase of 200.2 percent from 1,074 in 2010 to 3,224 in 2017, according to the New York State Health Department.  

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or go to Findtreatment.gov.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, Cooper faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and up to 40 years in prison.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Bradley T. King is in charge of the prosecution. 

The Defendant:

FERNANDO COOPER (also known as “Pablo”)
Age:  21
Ronkonkoma, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-CR-466 (JMA)

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs
Contact: 
John Marzulli Danielle Blustein Hass United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated October 13, 2022