A former NYPD narcotics detective is one of 14 people accused of operating a major heroin ring that authorities say pumped the drug into Nassau County, Brooklyn and Queens.
Operating out of barber and auto body shops, the ring moved more than 23,000 heroin doses a week, worth about $170,000 on the street, federal, state and local officials said Friday.
Capping a 15-month investigation, detectives executed search warrants and seized about 1,000 packs of packaged heroin and loose amounts of the drug that could have filled more than 2,000 additional bags, officials said.
Investigators tracked the drug — branded “Taster’s Choice” — and determined it was responsible for several overdoses, including one that was fatal in June 2016. Officials said the victim was a 23-year-old woman from Garden City Park.
Of the 14 indicted, 13 have been arrested; another suspect is being sought, authorities said.
“The message to dealers should be very clear: If you are selling heroin, we will find you,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said at a news conference in Mineola.
“Kids are dying almost every day here in Nassau County, and we have to focus on the problem,” said Nassau Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.
Authorities identified the ringleader as Leigh Jackson, 45, of the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of operating as a major trafficker.
The case was investigated by the Nassau district attorney’s office, Nassau police, the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force and other law enforcement agencies.
Jackson was arrested at his home on April 26 and flashed officers a Detective Endowment Association union card with a handwritten message on back: “please show consideration MOS [member of service] husband.” He also flashed a detective’s shield that read “detective’s husband,” officials said.
Jackson’s longtime partner, former NYPD detective Karan Young, is accused of collecting money from the drug sales and is charged with conspiracy.
Young retired from the police department’s Brooklyn South division in 2008. She has been working for Delta Air Lines at LaGuardia Airport since 2012 as a customer service representative, according to her Mineola attorney, Christopher Graziano.
Young pleaded not guilty on April 27 and was released after posting a $50,000 bond on May 1, Graziano said.
“Right now I’m not seeing any evidence that is tying her to a drug conspiracy,” he said.
Authorities said Jackson supplied heroin to two Elmont men, one of whom was identified as Hamilton Croft.
Investigators said Croft, a Bloods gang member, was arrested in February and charged in a July 2011 shooting that left the victim a quadriplegic, officials said. The victim died of complications to his injuries nearly five years later, authorities said.
Croft was charged with second-degree murder and sale of a controlled substance, officials said.
According to authorities, Croft sold heroin for Jackson in Hicksville, Levittown and Long Beach.
Croft’s attorney did not return a request for comment. Jackson’s attorney also could not be reached.
The bust comes almost a month after arrests were announced in another heroin-dealing enterprise that authorities said transformed Long Island’s Route 110 into a 24-hour “open- air drug market.”
Officials said three suppliers funneled the drug to 15 middlemen who delivered it via high-end vehicles, such as Bentleys and Lamborghinis, to Route 110 parking lots, coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, big-box retail stores and other businesses.