An undercover New York Police Department investigation led to the indictment and arrest of 21 people, including four from Queens, on charges they sold prescription drugs and narcotics through Craigslist, officials said.
According to Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, undercover cops made a total of 63 drug purchases for more than $29,400 during an 11-month investigation. They spent about $19,000 that netted more than 1,000 pills, including Xanax and Vicodin, and $10,400 on cocaine, the two said. The case, dubbed by the NYPD’s Manhattan South Narcotics team as Operation Dot Com, zoned in on independent drug dealers who found their business on the online ad website Craigslist.
Of the 21 arrests, made mostly over the past month throughout the city and New Jersey, Brennan said four defendants were residents of Queens. Those arrested included Eiyal Hillel, 39, of Kew Gardens Hills; Omar Dyer, 31, of Oakland Gardens; Ronald Bolanos, 42, of Flushing; and charges were eventually dropped against the fourth, he said.
“Whether the drug deal occurs on the street corner or on the Internet, it’s a crime,” Brennan said. “It is illegal to sell prescription drugs whatever the source — the black market or pills originally prescribed to you.”
The defendants, Brennan said, ranged in age from 22 to 62 and came from different occupations, including student, teacher’s aide to celebrity photographer and Internet entrepreneur. The accused, Brennan said, posted ads on Craigslist offering study aids or pain relief.
“Friendly NYU student who can offer pain relief and anxiety relief,” Brennan said one of the ads read. “Easy, non-sketchy, straightforward meeting.”
Brennan said half of the defendants arrested were selling either Adderall, which treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or Xanax, used to treat anxiety. The number of the two prescriptions being filled throughout the city has soared over the past five years, making the drug more readily available, Brennan said.
“There’s an epidemic of prescription drug addiction and abuse in New York that is ruining lives and producing violent crime, including drugstore robberies in which gunmen have demanded their drug of choice by name,” Kelly said.
According to Brennan, two of the 21 arrests have already led to indictments. Both former city teacher’s aide Mariel Javier, 25, and Internet entrepreneur Jennifer Sultan, 38, of Manhattan, were indicted after their arrests in December 2011, police said.
“Clearly, there is an overabundance of prescription drugs and opportunists looking to profit from their access to them,” Brennan said. “As a result, we are battling escalating rates of addiction and overdose deaths.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcors
©2012 Community News Group
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