Staten Island Man Charged with Conspiring to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Fentanyl
Michael Hitsous Allegedly Distributed Narcotics Leading to Two Near-Fatal Opioid Overdose
A criminal complaint was unsealed earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, charging Michael Hitsous with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl in Staten Island, New York. Hitsous was arrested yesterday and is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold.
Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael E. McMahon, District Attorney, Richmond County District Attorney’s Office (RCDA), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
As alleged in publicly filed documents, between February 2017 and December 2017, Hitsous sold heroin and fentanyl from his Staten Island home, which resulted in near fatal overdoses of two young women. Notably, in or about September 2017, Hitsous sold narcotics to a 25-year-old female who overdosed at the defendant’s residence after ingesting drugs that he provided. While the victim was unconscious, a friend of the victim called emergency medical personnel who arrived in time to resuscitate her. Despite providing the narcotics that nearly killed the victim, Hitsous continued to regularly sell narcotics from his home knowing the harm they cause.
“As alleged, the defendant Michael Hitsous profited by selling dangerous drugs, including fentanyl and heroin, without regard for the potentially deadly consequences to the users of those drugs,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “Together with our law enforcement partners, this Office will work tirelessly to identify and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who contribute to the opioid crisis, and, through these efforts, work to save lives by reducing the availability of opioids and to prevent new addictions in our District.”
“The illegal sale of heroin and fentanyl has caused unimaginable pain to families across Staten Island, as those suffering from addiction illness continue to overdose at alarming rates due to these deadly drugs,” stated District Attorney McMahon. “By investigating each overdose and tracing the dangerous narcotics back to the source, law enforcement has been able to hold drug dealers accountable for the lives they have destroyed and we are proud that our Overdose Response Initiative is getting these results. We will continue working together with our partners in the NYPD and the Eastern District to investigate and prosecute any individual who peddles this poison in our community so that we can save lives and finally put an end to the drug epidemic.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Justice, drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. 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 New York, from 2014 to 2015, fentanyl overdose deaths rose 135 percent, while heroin overdose deaths rose 28 percent. According to the CDC’s latest report analyzing overdose deaths nationally, in 2016 synthetic opioid deaths – which includes fentanyl – more than doubled from 9,580 in 2015 to 19,413 in 2016.
The arrest was the result of a long-term investigation by the NYPD’s Drug Overdose Task Force whose officers coordinated numerous controlled narcotics purchases from Hitsous.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section. Assistant United States Attorney David Lizmi is in charge of the prosecution.
Residence: Staten Island, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-MJ-1063