Nineteen people charged in a major cocaine operation have been indicted after a yearlong investigation that started when 20 kilos of cocaine bound for Amityville were seized in California, the Suffolk district attorney's office said Tuesday.
The cocaine, about 44 pounds, was discovered in a Los Angeles area home last year in June by police and federal agents -- drugs bound for the Amityville home of Juan Funes, the owner of a house cleaning service with 30 employees, according to District Attorney Thomas Spota.
Spota has described the arrests as the biggest drug bust this year in Suffolk.
Funes had drivers going to California to pick up the drugs, stash them in secret compartments in their vehicles, such as engine parts, then drive back to New York, prosecutors said.
In an indictment to be announced at a news conference Wednesday, charges against Funes and five other alleged ringleaders have been upgraded to operating as a major trafficker, Spota's office said.
All 19 defendants -- including 18 from Long Island -- have been indicted on second-degree conspiracy, prosecutors said.
Funes, 39, of 40 Bennet Place, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on the original charges last month. His attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, could not be reached Tuesday night but has said his client is not a drug dealer.
Armed with 16 search warrants, about 150 plainclothes and uniformed officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Suffolk police raided 14 locations on June 17 at sunrise. More than 19 people were initially arrested, prosecutors said. Authorities seized 4 kilos of cocaine as well as 30 firearms and cash, and discovered a hole in the closet of Funes' bedroom, where he had hidden material to package cocaine for sale, prosecutors said. Spota's office declined to comment on the status of others arrested, but not indicted.
The investigation is ongoing, Spota's office said.
Some defendants are business owners and operators, while others included an optical lens maker and a day trader, Spota said.