Suffolk's East End Heroin Task Force arrested nine men and charged them with dealing a highly potent form of heroin under the brand name "Hollywood," District Attorney Thomas Spota said Wednesday.
Spota said the arrests over the past several months and the seizure of 2,000 heroin packets show Suffolk's heroin crisis is continuing unabated.
"There is going to be a full-court press on the heroin epidemic that's occurring in Suffolk County," he said.
Some praised the arrests, but also said any meaningful attack on the heroin problem has to include better access to treatment for addicts, too.
"Any time they take high-profile dealers out of the equation, it's a good day," said Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependence. "But I worry there are 10 more to take their places."
Reynolds called for leadership on the issue of access to drug treatment, citing the skyrocketing addiction rate. If drug treatment facilities had their capacities doubled, they would be filled immediately, he said.
Suffolk Legis. Thomas Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said he is running a task force that will look at substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts. Whatever the county is doing now isn't working, he said.
The latest ring was selling heroin that is "far, far stronger than normal heroin," Spota said, although prosecutors do not know its purity. Because of its strength, Spota said addicts were willing to pay $15 to $20 a packet, compared with the usual $9 or $10.
The source of the heroin was three men in East Harlem, Spota said, all of whom have records of dealing drugs. Charged with second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and other charges are Jose Calvente, 65; Jose Morales, 72, and Carlos Ramos, 52. Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow ordered Calvente and Morales held on bail of $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond, and Ramos held on bail of $200,000 cash or $500,000 bond.
Spota said the three sold the Hollywood heroin to six Suffolk men, who sold to users in shopping center parking lots along Route 58 in Riverhead.
Charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and other charges are Leroy Langhorne, 41, Leon Langhorne, 38, and Robert Baker, 46, all of Riverhead, and Farrow Sims, 42, of Calverton. Charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and other charges are Jerome Trent, 58, of Riverhead, and Joseph Thomas, 41, of Mastic.
Braslow ordered Sims held on bail of $200,000 cash or $500,000 bond, and Thomas and Baker held on bail of $75,000 cash or $500,000 bond. Leon Langhorne is free after posting a $5,000 bond and Braslow set no bail on the others.