2012-03-21 / Front Page

Feds Bust Woodhaven Heroin Ring

By LIZ GOFF

Twenty suspected members of a Woodhaven-based heroin ring were indicted in Brooklyn Federal Court on March 13, wrapping up a nine-month probe by the NYPD, Nassau County Police, Suffolk County Police, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The law enforcement agencies joined forces after police from Queens to Nassau County noticed an increase in heroin use on Long Island, the spokesperson said.

The probe, dubbed Operation County Connection, uncovered a network operated by a group known as the Perez Organization, based in Woodhaven, said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, spokesperson for the Eastern District.

Law enforcement agents that busted the ring seized heroin with a street value of more than $30,000, along with thousands of dollars in cash, an FBI spokesperson said.

The 20 defendants indicted in the case ranged in age from 21-year-old college student Kathryn Pappas to 68-year-old retired Suffolk County Marine Bureau Police Officer Roland Stern, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Others indicted included accused ringleader Jose Perez, 26; Stern’s daughter, Corey Stern, 37; husband and wife, Matthew Catrini, 24 and Tina Catrini, 29 and Dana Sollecito, 23, who is charged with selling heroin in the parking lot of her family’s Massapequa, L.I. restaurant.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the ring centered its operation in Woodhaven, with distribution networks in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The ring also maintained storage facilities elsewhere in Queens, as well as in Brooklyn and Roosevelt, Long Island.

The indictments were obtained through the use of hours of wiretaps, revealing hours of alleged buying and selling of heroin, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Law enforcement also recovered the heroin and cash in the storage facilities.

Agents seized 5,400 doses of heroin from members of the ring, 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 $2.75 million.

“The charges and arrests announced here 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 - profiting personally while endangering the lives of so many residents in our communities,” Lynch said.

If convicted, the 20 defendants face 10 years to life in federal prison.
 

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