Addressing Drug Epidemic

Separate Suffolk busts take down multiple drug rings, authorities say

Separate raids involving Suffolk County and federal law enforcement have led to the take down of multiple drug trafficking rings and the arrest of 18 East End and Huntington Station residents on narcotics and other charges, authorities said Wednesday.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday in Central Islip federal court accused 13 residents of Jamesport, Mastic, Riverhead and Southampton — most of whom are alleged members of the Bloods street gang — with being part of a wide-ranging crack-cocaine ring operating on the East End, federal prosecutors said. Two defendants face charges in state court but were not named in the federal indictment. Three other defendants are at large, officials said.

“The toxic mix of street gangs, drug-dealing and illegal firearms poses a direct threat to the safety of our citizens and our community,” said Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a news release.  “The Eastern District and our law enforcement partners in the FBI, ATF and Suffolk County will continue to target, penetrate and destroy criminal gangs that inflict addiction, violence and grief on the people of Suffolk County.”

The results of another partnership between Suffolk police officers and federal agents was on display Wednesday in Suffolk Criminal Court in Riverhead where three Huntington Station residents appeared before a judge to face charges connected to a drug ring operating out of the hamlet.

During the Nov. 2 raid of the Huntington Station home of  Adrian Bonilla, 40, an alleged member of the Latin Kings street gang, and his girlfriend, Jennifer Perez Bonilla, 28, Suffolk and federal investigators found a baby in a bassinet near a kilo of cocaine as well as 18 grams of the drug, more than $66,000 in cash, packaging materials and digital scales, said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini at a news conference at the Riverhead courthouse where he announced a 47-count indictment against the couple and a third man.
Bonilla faces charges of operating as a major trafficker, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, and other drug-related charges, Sini said. Cordero was charged with first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and other offenses, Sini said. Both were charged with endangering the welfare of child.

Neftali Camacho Hernandez, 27, also of Huntington Station, was charged with second-degree conspiracy, 19 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance and other offenses.

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Martin Efman ordered Bonilla held in lieu of $2 million bail or $4 million bond at his arraignment in Riverhead. Cordero’s bail was $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond. Hernandez was held on $1 million cash bail or $3 million bond. All three pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to return to court Dec. 12. It was not clear Wednesday if they were represented by attorneys.

Bonilla was sentenced to six years in federal prison for running a large-scale cocaine ring in 2016, and was on probation at the time of his arrest, officials said. He and Cordero face up to life in prison if found guilty. Hernandez faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

“This indictment should serve as a warning to drug dealers who operate in Suffolk County that law enforcement is coming for you,” Sini said at the news conference, where Suffolk police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials joined him.

In the East End case, the defendants were taken into custody Wednesday after Suffolk cops and DEA agents executed search warrants at multiple locations, federal and Suffolk authorities said. During the raids, investigators recovered seven firearms, including an AR-15 rifle, three kilograms of cocaine, four pounds of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin and $10,000 in cash, authorities said.

The operation was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a crime-reduction strategy involving several law enforcement agencies, officials said, with Wednesday’s raids aimed at breaking up several large-scale crack cocaine distribution operations on East End.

Officials did not release a full list of the charges against the 13 defendants, identified as: Tramaine Brown, 29, of Jamesport; Deon Shorter, 22, of Mastic; as well as Riverhead residents Dayna Barrow, 35, Kenneth Belcher, 31, Daniel Harris, 25, Romaine Hopkins, 36, Kotarra Jackson, 36, Terrill Latney, 39, Quandol Lewis, 34, Randy Smith, 33, and Demario Weston, 34. John Gamble, 37, of Shirley, and Matthew Pittma, 43, of Southampton were also charged.

It was unclear Wednesday if any of the defendants had hired or been assigned attorneys.  Officials said they were being held pending trial.

“Because of the great collaboration among federal, state and local law enforcement, the East End of Long Island is safer,” Sini said. “My office will continue to work tirelessly with all of our law enforcement partners to eradicate violent street gangs from our communities.”

Original article and credits can be found here.