Forty suspects have been rounded up after authorities busted a massive drug-trafficking ring that partly operated out of unlicensed day-care centers in Hempstead and Rosedale, Nassau County prosecutors said.
Nine of the suspects were charged with operating as a major trafficker for allegedly selling more than $75,000 worth of narcotics in six months or less, authorities said. They face up to 25 years to life in prison, if convicted.
“In what appears to be a fully functioning day-care center with children’s furniture, toys, posters, this defendant was mixing drugs,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas told reporters Monday during a news conference outside of her Mineola office. “Children were eating and playing and being cared for in the same space where cocaine was being packaged. Parents trying to work through the pandemic left their children at a day care and this is what their kids were exposed to.”
The arrests were the result of a 18-month joint investigation dubbed Operation Honeycomb, which involved the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the U.S. Post Inspection Service, and New York State Police. The probe began as an investigation into gun trafficking and morphed into a drug drug net. Investigators used wiretaps to help make their case.
“In October 2019, working with the ATF, we identified a single alleged drug trafficker and obtained eavesdropping warrants,” Singas said. “What we heard was shocking, many of the defendants were routinely trafficking kilos of cocaine into Nassau county from as far away as Puerto Rico and California. They talked about serious acts of violence, shootings, stabbings, robberies, attempted murders.”
When authorities executed search warrants in the case, they seized 38 guns, about $2.7 million worth of narcotics, 9.5 kilos of nearly pure cocaine, approximately 1.5 kilos of crack cocaine, more than 1 kilo of heroin, approximately 250 grams of fentanyl, 210 grams of morphine, and over $380,000 in cash, according to Singas.
Five of the defendants are suspected of dealing a lethal cocktail of heroin, fentanyl, and morphine to desperate customers when demand for drugs began to outweigh supply during the pandemic.