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Justice News

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrests Of Operators Of Retail Heroin Store

Drug ring conspired to sell heroin out of a retail storefront in Newburgh, NY

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Angel Melendez, Special Agent in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New York (“HSI”), George P. Beach II, Superintendent of the New York State Police, and Daniel C. Cameron, the Chief of the City of Newburgh Police Department announced the arrest of VICTOR M. RIVAS, EDWARD CARDONA, JULIO A. DAVILA, and RONALD L. MATIAS a/k/a “Ronald Louis” stemming from a narcotics conspiracy to establish a retail heroin-selling organization.  VICTOR M. RIVAS was arrested at his home in Newburgh, New York, and MATIAS was arrested at a motel in Newburgh.   CARDONA and DAVILA were arrested at the retail shop at 427 Broadway in Newburgh.  They will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith in White Plains federal court.

Law enforcement officers also executed search warrants on several locations where they believed the organizers were storing narcotics.  They seized a brick containing a substance that appeared to be heroin from behind the shop, and approximately $250,000 in cash from a storage unit used by the defendants.  Law enforcement also recovered a quantity of a substance that appeared to be heroin from DAVILA that was on his person when he was arrested.

VICTOR R. RIVAS, was also charged.  He is currently incarcerated on state charges and will be transported to federal custody to face the federal narcotics conspiracy charges.  

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “As alleged, these defendants blatantly sold heroin from a storefront on a main street in Newburgh, New York.  By flouting the law and selling heroin like newspapers or lottery tickets, the Complaint alleges, they also helped fuel the tragic epidemic of opioid abuse that is devastating so many of our communities.”

HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel Melendez said:  “This organization allegedly operated daily selling drugs out of their store while posing as a legitimate business. Using fake storefronts has been a way for criminals to hide in our neighborhoods while poisoning our communities.  Whether it’s a sham barber shop or a bogus sports store, there is no place to hide.  HSI and its law enforcement partners continue to work tirelessly, day and night, to find these drug pushers and take them off our streets.”

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said:  “Once again, a strong law enforcement partnership has brought down an illegal narcotic operation.  State Police members each day see the harmful effects of heroin on individuals, families and our neighborhoods.  A drug like heroin destroys communities and puts lives at risk.  I applaud our members and our partners for their strong police work.  We will continue to work together to make our communities safer from crime.”

City of Newburgh Police Chief Daniel C. Cameron stated: “The City of Newburgh Police Department is proud to have played an integral role in the arrest of these defendants - alleged drug deals blatantly operating a storefront to sell heroin on the streets of our city.  This arrest would not have been possible without the combined efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement, working cooperatively and without agendas.  Today, the residents of Newburgh are all a bit safer, as several alleged heroin dealers are behind bars.”

According to the Complaint[1] unsealed today in federal court:

Since January 2016, law enforcement agents have been involved in an investigation of a narcotics trafficking organization (the “Organization”) run by VICTOR M. RIVAS, with the assistance of CARDONA, DAVILA, VICTOR R. RIVAS, and MATIAS that operates in and around Newburgh, New York, and specifically at a storefront location at 427 Broadway in Newburgh that alternately operates as a soccer shop and a barbershop (the “Soccer Shop”). 

During this investigation, undercover New York State Police officers (the “UCs”) and confidential sources (the “CSs”) conducted dozens of controlled buys of heroin at the Soccer Shop from several of the defendants.  In aggregate, from January 2016 to November 2016, the UCs and CSs purchased approximately 515 glassine envelopes of a substance sold as, and later determined to be heroin, at the Soccer Shop.  Ten glassine envelopes typically contain approximately 0.25 grams of heroin.

Law enforcement officials believe that the Organization distributed well over 1 kilogram of heroin from January 2016 through November 2016.  That belief is based, in part, on:  (i) the fact that, on the numerous occasions when the UCs and CSs sought to purchase heroin from the defendants, the heroin was readily available; (ii) the UCs and CSs frequently observed other customers of the Organization inside the Soccer Shop purchasing heroin; (iii) surveillance footage from a camera facing the Soccer Shop indicated that the Organization operated daily from approximately 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and that a steady stream of customers tended to enter the shop while it  was open and remain inside for only a few minutes each; and (iv) the observations of the UCs and CSs, as well as recorded audio and video surveillance, which indicate that the Soccer Shop is not engaged in any legitimate business as a barbershop, sports shop, or otherwise.  During the course of this investigation, the only business observed to be conducted inside the Soccer Shop was the illegal sale of narcotics.

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VICTOR M. RIVAS, 51, of Newburgh, CARDONA, 33, of Newburgh, DAVILA, 26, of Newburgh, VICTOR R. RIVAS, 28, of Newburgh, and MATIAS, 35, are each charged with one count of conspiring to violate the narcotics laws of the United States, by conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram and more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin.  The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration and the City of Newburgh Police Department for their assistance with this investigation.  He added that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jacqueline C. Kelly and Allison Nichols are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
Updated December 9, 2016