Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and Ray Donovan, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging ARIEL TAVAREZ, a/k/a “A,” a/k/a “Mike,” CHRISTIAN BAEZ, LUIS MESON, a/k/a “Sito,” GREGORIS MARTINEZ, a/k/a “Greg,” KEVIN GRULLON, a/k/a “Kev,” a/k/a “JB,” and JOIFFREY URENA, a/k/a “Jeff,” a/k/a “Jay,” with conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine through an on-demand drug delivery service called “Mike’s Candyshop.” All six defendants were arrested today and will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox in Manhattan federal court this afternoon. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, these defendants operated a covert on-demand delivery service for the distribution of highly addictive and dangerous drugs. Allegedly, even after they realized the potency of the drugs they were distributing and selling, the defendants continued to sell their poison. Today’s arrests are part of our continued commitment, along with our law enforcement partners, to stop the flow of heroin and cocaine onto the streets of New York City. Thanks to the tireless efforts of law enforcement, Mike’s Candyshop is no longer open for business.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “The NYPD’s efforts to rid New York City streets of drug traffickers are greatly strengthened by our close partnerships with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Anyone who deals in illegal narcotics must understand that the nation’s best investigators will stop at nothing to fight crime and keep safe all the people we serve.”
HSI Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said: “Those arrested today are alleged to have operated an on-demand drug distribution network known as ‘Mike’s Candyshop.’ This illicit enterprise allegedly allowed people to order heroin and cocaine to their doorstep simply by calling the business phone number with the same convenience as if they were ordering a pizza. At least one overdose death is allegedly linked to this drug trafficking organization. HSI’s coordination and information sharing with its partners at the NYPD, DEA and CBP have proven to be effective strategies in investigating drug trafficking organizations. We know that we must continue to combat the trafficking and distribution of these dangerous narcotics in the hope of preventing future overdose deaths.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said: “Traffickers take note, it is our job to investigate and arrest drug suppliers whose business leads to drug addiction, overdoses, and death. This case gives new meaning to the term ‘candy’ and gave investigators a look into alleged drug delivery services in New York. Our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HSI, and NYPD will continue to identify alleged drug suppliers at all levels.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment, and statements made in Court:
The defendants were members of a drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”) that engaged in a drug delivery service, which identified itself as “Mike’s Candyshop.” The DTO delivered heroin and cocaine on demand to customers in New York City, and distributed numerous kilograms of heroin and cocaine throughout the course of the conspiracy. Mike’s Candyshop generally operated seven days per week, from approximately 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., with the exception of major holidays such as Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, and Labor Day. Customers of the DTO placed delivery orders via text message to a centralized phone number (the “Candyshop Number”). The operator of the Candyshop Number was usually TAVAREZ, a/k/a “A,” a/k/a “Mike,” one of the charged defendants and the leader of the DTO. Using the Candyshop Number, TAVAREZ accepted customer orders and subsequently arranged for a courier working for the DTO to deliver the narcotics to the customer, usually within hours of the customer texting his or her order to the Candyshop Number. Certain of the DTO members, including BAEZ, MESON, GRULLON, and URENA, served as couriers for the DTO, and regularly delivered and sold narcotics to the DTO’s customers in hand-to-hand drug transactions coordinated through the Candyshop Number. MARTINEZ managed the DTO’s day-to-day supply of drugs and cash proceeds.
The DTO stored heroin, cocaine, and cash from drug sales in various stash locations maintained by the DTO, including in Brooklyn, New York. In an effort to avoid law enforcement detection, the DTO sold only to customers who had been referred by existing customers, periodically changed the Candyshop Number, used coded language to discuss narcotics, and delivered narcotics directly to customers at locations specified by the customer.
As a means of marketing its cocaine, and to ensure that the DTO’s customers knew the cocaine provided by the couriers belonged to the DTO, the DTO sold its cocaine in vials sealed with different colored tops. On or about December 16, 2018, a customer of the DTO (“Victim‑1”) died of a drug overdose in Manhattan, New York. At the scene of the overdose death, law enforcement officers recovered empty vials with colored tops, and a glassine next to a powder mixture containing, among other substances, heroin and cocaine, along with Victim-1’s cellphone. Victim-1’s cellphone contained text messages showing that Victim-1 had ordered narcotics from the Candyshop Number on numerous occasions, including the day before Victim-1’s death.
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BAEZ, 33, MESON, 31, MARTINEZ, 34, GRULLON, 25, and URENA, 27, each of New York, New York, and TAVAREZ, 38, of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, are each charged with one count of conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life 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 defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI, the DEA, and the NYPD. He also thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Aline R. Flodr, Mollie Bracewell, and Nicholas W. Chiuchiolo are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.