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Alleged Suffolk cocaine ring busted, attorneys say

Heroin evidence from the DEA Public Information New

Heroin evidence from the DEA Public Information New York Field Division. Credit: DEA NY

Suffolk County authorities have busted an alleged drug ring that imported cocaine from California, making more than 20 arrests, according to attorneys involved in the case.

The joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security involved months of wiretaps, several defense attorneys said.

Among those arrested in a sunrise raid of their homes Tuesday were local business owners, the lawyers said.

The defendants have all been arraigned on drug charges in First District Court in Central Islip, according to attorneys and court records.

Further details about the scope of the alleged ring were not immediately available. A grand jury indictment was issued Friday and remains sealed, the attorneys said.

Mineola-based attorney Lawrence Carra, who represents a construction business owner accused of selling cocaine, said authorities painted a picture of a cross-country drug pipeline during the arraignment.

Prosecutors, he said, alleged that people obtained the drugs in California and drove them to New York, "and money was being ferried back to California."

Prosecutors said the raids netted more than $500,000 in cash and 37 weapons, according to Carra, who declined to identify his client.

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota did not return calls Friday or Saturday seeking comment.

Records for four of the defendants show they were arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty.

The accused ringleader, Juan Funes, 39, of Amityville, was charged with operating a drug ring and first-degree conspiracy. He was released on $500,000 bond.

Funes' attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, said his client owns a cleaning service and is not a drug dealer.

Griffin said authorities seized $34,000 in the raid but found no drugs. "Any money they found is directly attributable to a business he's operated for the last 13 years," he said.

Jose Rodriguez, 42, of Lindenhurst, was charged with second-degree conspiracy, said his attorney, Nancy Bartling of Mineola. She said Rodriguez is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Jesus Sime, of Brentwood, was charged with first-degree conspiracy, said his attorney, William Kephart of Garden City. Kephart said Sime owns a deli. Sime's wife, Maria Rodriguez, 40, was charged with cocaine possession. Sime was released on $300,000 bond; Rodriguez on $20,000 bond.

Rodriguez's attorney, Scott Gross of Garden City, said his client is a stay-at-home mom with a clean record who had no involvement in the alleged ring.

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