Queens DA, Narcotics Cops Block ‘Heroin Highway’
Scores of people arrested in a drug sting coordinated by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and the NYPD are traveling a superhighway straight through the criminal justice system.
Brown and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly stood before a table filled with seized guns and drugs on January 13, where they announced the arrests of 131 people, mostly well-to-do Long Islanders, who traveled the Long Island Expressway to buy or sell drugs.
Three Queens residents were among 12 people arrested earlier this month as authorities wrapped up a year-long investigation into what they called a “heroin highway” between Queens and Eastern Long Island.
“Many people are using their heroin fix to supplement raging prescription drug habits,” Brown said. “On Long Island, heroin use among teenagers has skyrocketed in recent years. Rather than injected, the drug is snorted and is often used with dangerous prescription medications such as OxyContin.”
Brown continued, “The main defendants are accused of operating as a tightly knit ring that catered almost exclusively to drug buyers from the eastern end of Long Island, virtually turning the Long Island Expressway into the ‘Heroin Highway’.”
Drug users from towns like Kings Park and Smithtown would drive one hour to reach neighborhoods in Ridgewood to buy their heroin at nearly half the price they would pay on Long Island.
One sleeve of heroin containing 100 individual packets could sell from $1,000 to $1,500 on Long Island. To avoid paying those prices, the young Long Islanders would meet with dealers in hotels, diners, fast food restaurants – and even 99-Cent stores in Queens to get the same product for $400 to $800.
“This is a substantial savings,” Inspector Michael Bryan, commander of the Queens Narcotics Bureau said. “That was the draw to come into Queens to purchase these drugs.”
The sting led a total of 131 men and women into the arms of Queens Narcotics cops who charged them with drug possession, authorities said.
Twelve alleged drug dealers, the last to be busted in the sting, are facing more significant charges that could put them behind bars “for a long, long time”, authorities said.
Alleged drug leader Jermel Broadhurst, 30, of 29th Street in Astoria is facing charges of operating as a major drug trafficker, along with nine counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance and nine weapons-related charges. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison, if convicted.
Brown told reporters, Broadhurst was the boss of his gang and as such, he would arrange transactions between buyers and his people.
In one instance, Broadhurst arranged for one of his people to sell $200 worth of heroin to an undercover officer at a Best Western Hotel at 33-17 Greenpoint Ave. in Sunnyside and another, $800 transaction, went down at a Subway Restaurant located in a gas station at 51-22 Northern Blvd. in Woodside, Brown said.
Chelene Nelson, 24, of 29th Street in Astoria was charged with multiple counts of possession of a controlled substance and Marcos Feliciano, 47, of Far Rockaway, is facing multiple weapons charges.
Over the course of the investigation, police seized more than 8,000 glassine envelopes of heroin, more than five kilograms of unpackaged heroin, 2.7 kilograms of cocaine, five pistols, two shotguns and a fully loaded AK-47 assault rifle that was taken from a suspect at the time of his arrest, authorities said.
One suspect was carrying a loaded Glock pistol when he was arrested, Kelly said. The suspect was on his way to shoot a customer that failed to pay-up.
Thirty-four of the 131 arrests made during the investigation were made in the tony town of Smithtown, Long Island, authorities said.