After a nine-month investigation, 20 suspected members of a Woodhaven-based heroin ring were indicted in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday , the U.S. attorney’s office said.
In response to an increase in heroin use on Long Island, the FBI teamed up with the NYPD, Nassau County Police, Suffolk County Police and U.S. Marshals Service, the office said. After the probe called “Operation County Connection” they found a network run by a group known as the Perez Organization based in Woodhaven, the office said.
The authorities seized heroin with a street value of more than $30,000 and thousands of dollars in cash, the FBI said.
The 20 defendants indicted in the ring range in age from 21-year-old college student Kathryn Pappas to 68-year-old retired Suffolk County Marine Bureau Police Officer Roland Stern, the office said.
Others indicted include a married couple, 29-year-old Tina and 24-year-old Matthew Catrini, and Dana Sollectio, 23, who is charged with selling heroin in her family’s Massapequa, L.I., restaurant’s parking lot, the office said.
“The charges and arrests announced today have ended the activities of an alleged heroin distribution organization whose members were drawn from a variety of backgrounds but were united by a common cause,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch for the Eastern District, “profiting personally while endangering the lives of so many residents in our communities.”
The office said the ring centered its operations in Woodhaven, although it had distribution networks in Nassau and Suffolk counties. It also had storage facilities in Queens, Brooklyn and Roosevelt, N.Y., the office said.
The alleged members were indicted through the use of hours of wiretaps, revealing hours of alleged buying and selling of heroin, the office said. Law enforcement also found the heroin and the cash in the storage facilities, the office said.
Agents seized 5,400 doses of heroin through the members, the office said. Overall, the alleged ring members are charged with distributing more than 20 kilograms of heroin, which has a street price of at least $2.7 million, the office said.
Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Gary Brown will oversee the case, the U.S. attorney’s office said. If found guilty, the 20 defendants face 10 years to life in prison, the office said.
“Heroin use among suburban teens is alarmingly popular, and today’s heroin is more potent and less expensive than ever,” said Janice Fedarcyk, of the FBI. “The FBI and our partners are determined to stem the flow of a poison responsible for far too many needless deaths.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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