Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and the Long Island Heroin Taskforce recently announced that 15 people, including three major traffickers, have been indicted for their alleged roles in a drug operation that spanned Long Island, Kings and Queens counties.
In total, 88,000 individual doses of heroin worth approximately $1,276,400; 1,024 grams of cocaine valued at $102,400; and $1,214,093 in cash were seized during this investigation. Additionally, three bank accounts with $262,900 were frozen.
Singas said that beginning in July 2019, the NCDA, NCPD and Long Island Heroin Taskforce began an investigation into a drug operation that allegedly sold heroin to customers from Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The drugs were allegedly sold from the parking lot of the Gateway Shopping Center in East New York, Brooklyn for more than six years.
During the four-month investigation, alleged ringleaders Luis Rivera and Orlando Rodriguez, who are charged with operating as major traffickers, allegedly sold between 1,300 and 2,600 bundles (13,000 to 26,000 individual doses) of heroin per month to 74 different customers, including 13 alleged street dealers charged in this indictment. Rivera and Rodriguez’s alleged profits averaged approximately $30,000 per week and totaled $230,000 in heroin and cocaine sales over the investigation.
The 13 other dealers charged in this indictment allegedly traveled from towns on Long Island, including Garden City, Valley Stream, Bellmore, Albertson, Wantagh and Hicksville, to the Gateway Shopping Center to purchase heroin from Rivera and Rodriguez, who are believed to be cousins.
Heroin originally distributed by Rivera is allegedly connected to 15 overdoses—13 in Nassau (three fatal) and two in Suffolk. Of the ring’s 74 customers, 54 have been identified as coming from Nassau County, 16 from Suffolk County and five from New York City.
“This massive operation has dismantled the largest known heroin trafficking operation in Nassau County, disrupting the flow of this deadly poison into our communities,” Singas said. “Heroin from this syndicate has been linked to at least three fatal overdoses, and we know that putting these alleged traffickers out of business will save lives. I commend our partners for their outstanding collaboration in this operation, and for their unstinting commitment to ending the opioid epidemic.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said that the county is in the midst of a serious nationwide addiction crisis and every single arrest makes a difference.
“I applaud our dedicated law enforcement officials and the Long Island Heroin Taskforce for their collaborative efforts and success in taking down these major drug traffickers, dismembering the largest known heroin trafficking operation in Nassau County,” she said. “We are not taking our foot off the gas. Together, we will continue our commitment to rid our streets of this poison and keep historic low crime rates in Nassau County.”
Ryder said that the announcement of Operation Gateway’s investigation produced a historical amount of arrests, seizures of money and dangerous drugs in the region.
“Our combined efforts have taken these drugs and their dealers off the streets making it more difficult for drugs to get in the hands of our residents, thus making our communities even safer,” Ryder said. “I would like to congratulate all of the investigators and their respective agencies for all of their dedication and hard work over the past six months.”
On Dec. 13, law enforcement officials executed search warrants on the Brooklyn home of Rivera and his wife, co-defendant Nicolette Barba, which they shared with Rodriguez. Inside, police recovered more than $383,000 cash; 963 grams of heroin with a street value of $325,000; more than 5,800 individual glassines of heroin worth $58,000; and approximately 33 grams of cocaine worth $3,300.
Inside the apartment, investigators also found 175 pairs of Jordan sneakers, worth approximately $30,000, and several safe deposit box keys. Two of the safe deposit boxes have been opened—police found $440,100 in one and $390,100 in the other, both in cash.
Rivera and Rodriquez allegedly used a stash house in Flushing to store heroin and cocaine, and during a search warrant executed, police found an additional 800 grams of heroin valued on the street at $240,000; 26,730 individual glassines of heroin ready for sale worth $267,300; and 980 grams of cocaine worth $98,000.
The two men allegedly used a Honda Pilot to sell their drugs, and during a search of the vehicle, police allegedly found 910 glassines of heroin, worth $9,100; 11 grams of cocaine worth $11,000; and $165 cash inside a trap in the console of the vehicle.
The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are likely. The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.