Heroin Takes Center Stage with Arrests and Federal Programs to Combat Scourge

Heroin on Long Island

Authorities on Long Island last week announced large scale heroin busts just as elected officials vowed to combat the scourge of opioid abuse by pouring billions of federal funds into various drug programs.

In Nassau County, District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office indicted 14 alleged members of a heroin ring that operated in Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn. The Brooklyn-based crew allegedly sold upwards of 23,000 doses of heroin each week, which authorities conservatively estimated to be worth $170,000.

The alleged ring’s downfall came after authorities tracked a dealer to a large-scale drug network distributing thousands of doses of the drug each week, authorities said.

Of the 14 indicted, a dozen have been arraigned, one is in custody, and another has yet to be arrested, said Singas.

Four of the alleged members of the drug ring face up to 25 years in life in prison. One of the alleged leaders of the group, Leigh Jackson, is accused of selling packaged heroin stamped “Taster’s Choice” linked to several overdoses, including one that caused the death of a 23-year-old woman from Garden City Park, Singas said.

Authorities executed several search warrants that resulted in the seizure of two firearms, ammunition, $12,000 in cash, and a large amount of heroin, Singas said.

Similar items were discovered in a house in Coram earlier last week, according to Suffolk County police. While executing a search warrant at the residence, police found 349 grams of heroin, more than $83,000, an assault rifle and two handguns, police said. The 44-year-old man who lives at the house, Keith Daves, was arrested and charged on drug and weapons charges.

Announcing the arrest, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said: “If you are selling drugs in Suffolk County, we will be coming for you.”

Back in Nassau, County Executive Ed Mangano reportedly intends to sue drug manufacturers to pay back county taxpayers for the cost of fighting the opioid epidemic. Officials in Suffolk County announced a similar lawsuit last summer.

Federal officials have also made combating the drug epidemic a priority. Included in this year’s federal budget is $4 billion for substance abuse and mental health services.

“The opioid and heroin crisis on Long Island and across New York is a symptom of a national emergency that’s taken the lives of far too many Americans,” said U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “This significant federal investment will put words into action and combat this national crisis by supporting prevention, interdiction, treatment and recovery programs and help us turn the tide against this tragic scourge.”

The budget allocates $160 million to help pay for enforcement and treatment programs and more than $100 million for prevention.