4 arrested in cocaine smuggling operation

August 3, 2011 2:36:42 PM PDT
Four men were arrested on drug charges for allegedly running a California-to-New York cocaine smuggling operation.

The Suffolk County District Attorney said they used car carrier trucks and secret compartments in the luxury vehicles aboard to transport the narcotics to Suffolk County and cash back to California.

Police are still looking for a 33-year-old California man, William Wright of West Hollywood, who is believed to be the "prime architect" of the network responsible for the distribution of hundreds of kilos of cocaine on Long Island.

District Attorney Spota said the eight-month investigation employing court-authorized surveillance and search warrants resulted in the police seizure of 32 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated $3 million, nearly $900,000 in drug proceeds, a quantity of illegal steroids, a cocaine press used to prepare the drug for street sales, money counters and other paraphernalia.

"To give you an idea of the money generated by this ring," District Attorney Spota said, "they were purchasing the cocaine in California for $20,500 per kilo, and then selling it in the streets of Suffolk County for a price approximately five times that amount once the cocaine was cut and prepared for distribution."

Being held in the Suffolk County jail in lieu of $2 million cash bail is Robert Perticone, 30, of 549 Polaris Street, Deer Park, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. Police recovered $32,000 in cash, nine cell phones, steroids and records of drug transactions from Perticone's home.

Richard Occhino, 46, also of 549 Polaris in Deer Park, described by law enforcement as Robert Perticone's "right hand man" in the smuggling operation, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. Occhino is incarcerated in lieu of $5 million cash bail.

Thirty kilos of cocaine were discovered in a hidden trap in a Nissan 350Z, DA Spota said, the vehicle newly delivered from California on July 19 via car carrier and recovered by detectives from Occhino's business, a custom motorcycle shop called Radical Rides on Grand Boulevard in Deer Park.

Two kilograms of cocaine were recovered from a secret compartment in a Jeep Cherokee recovered from Theodore Katsanos, 29, of 16 Deborah Court in Bay Shore. Katsanos, charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, is being held in lieu of $750,000 cash in the county jail. Suffolk Police narcotics detectives recovered $100,000 in cash in a hidden trap in the defendant's bedroom, as well as four cell phones, two electronic scales, a money counter and various records from his home.

$50,000 in drug proceeds was seized during the execution of a search warrant inside the West Babylon residence of defendant Jose Tejada, 33, who is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Tejada was arrested at a stash house in Deer Park on Western Avenue, a location where the district attorney said materials were present in order to process and cut cocaine. Recovered by police detectives from the stash house were approximately seven kilos of the cutting agent. Bond for Tejada was set at $250,000 in district court.

District Attorney Spota thanked Suffolk County Police Department Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone and the department's Narcotics section headed by Detective Lieutenant William Burke, acknowledging their hard work conducting the investigation over the past eight months, as well as the work of assistant district attorney Jacob Kubetz of the district attorney's Narcotics Bureau who is prosecuting the case.