HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Dozens of people have been indicted in the bust of a major narcotic trafficking ring that operated on Long Island, including from out of two day care centers, authorities announced Monday.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said 40 people are charged and that the following items were recovered through search warrants and car stops:
--38 firearms, including assault weapons and ammunition
--9.5 kilograms of nearly pure cocaine - approximately 31,000 doses
--Approximately 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine - approximately 5,000 doses
--More than one kilogram of heroin - 36,000 individual doses
--250 grams of fentanyl - enough to provide 36,000 fatal doses
--210 grams of morphine - approximately 42,000 individual doses
--More than $380,000 in cash
During the execution of two search warrants, officers learned that two defendants, Lex Lloyd and an un-apprehended co-defendant, allegedly conducted narcotic business from day care centers in Hempstead and Rosedale.
Officials say drugs, guns and kids were all inside a location on Pierson Avenue in Hempstead at the same time.
Singas said her office and the ATF started investigating an increase of violence and drug-dealing in the Hempstead area in October 2019, and after several drug and gun purchases, they applied for electronic eavesdropping warrants in February 2020.
"This massive multi-agency takedown strikes a heavy blow to the narcotics trafficking infrastructure in our region," she said. "We recovered huge quantities of drugs, stockpiles of weapons and 40 drug traffickers and dealers have been indicted for their alleged roles in this dangerous network. I'm grateful to our partners for their work and incredible perseverance to protect our communities."
Authorities say the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cost of cocaine to vary widely, with demand vastly exceeding supply.
Cocaine prices rose from approximately $32,000 per kilogram to a peak of $55,000 per kilogram in August 2020.
They say five defendants sold a cocktail of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, and one of them allegedly cut heroin with fentanyl and morphine.
Data from the County Medical Examiner's toxicology lab through September 2020 indicates that fatal overdoses have spiked more than 30%. Additionally, an opioid was detected in 83% of the fatal overdoses involving cocaine.
As the investigation expanded, they say nine individuals emerged as alleged major traffickers: Able McTootle, Eric Butler, Willy Matias, Allen Evans, Eric Poston, Matthew Williams a/k/a Vernon Howard, Orlando Ramsay, Rodney Highsmith and an unapprehended co-defendant.
The crime of operating as a major trafficker requires the aggregate value of narcotics possessed or sold by the trafficker to exceed $75,000 during a period of six months or less. The charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
These individuals allegedly acted as major suppliers to numerous smaller dealers in Nassau County and variously worked together to obtain and distribute narcotics.
Prosecutors allege that drugs were trafficked from as far away as Puerto Rico, as well as California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Approximately 520 grams of cocaine, 50 oxycodone pills, two narcotics presses and bullets were recovered from Lloyd's residence on Pierson Avenue in Hempstead, and approximately 100 grams of cocaine and 100 grams of crack cocaine were allegedly recovered from the un-apprehended co-defendant's residence in Rosedale.
One defendant allegedly used the mail to send three kilograms of cocaine that were recovered during the operation, dubbed Operation Honeycomb because a large volume of drugs was allegedly packaged and stored at a defendant's home that was frequently referred to as the "honeycomb" by co-defendants in wiretapped calls.
In total, the street value of the narcotics seized is estimated to be approximately $2,772,000.
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