A sting targeting five key drug operations and their supplier netted 31 arrests and the seizure of heroin, cocaine, weapons and cash, authorities said Thursday.
The takedown involving agencies in the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force was completed in a series of raids. Dubbed Operation Gram Slam, it led to the indictments of 28 men and three women, ranging in age from 21 to 46, officials said. They live in communities including Uniondale, Amityville, Hempstead, Central Islip, Elmont, Glen Cove, Shirley and Farmingdale.
Most of the 31 people arrested were arraigned on various drug charges Thursday in Nassau County Court. Five are charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life.
“This is a major disruption,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said at a news conference in Mineola Thursday in which she characterized the operation a historic takedown of drug dealers on Long Island.
“A lot of drugs. A lot of cash. It’s a huge operation,” she said.
In a statement she added, “Today’s takedown . . . is a crushing blow to this network of traffickers.”
Plea information for the defendants was not available, and none of their attorneys could immediately be reached for comment.
Records show the five drug organizations caught up in the bust worked independently and did not collaborate, officials said, but each got a bulk of its drugs from the same supplier: David Ramis, 38, of Uniondale, who records show was last arrested in 2005 for supplying cocaine to the leader of the gang Salvadorans With Pride.
Authorities at the time identified Ramis as a member of the Trackside Gang, which police said had an allegiance with the Salvadoran group. Records show he was sentenced to five years in prison on a drug and gun conviction in 2006 and released on parole in 2007.
The organizations targeted Thursday boast a number of dealers who also are gang members and have affiliations with various Long Island street gangs, including the Bloods, officials said.
The task force initially focused on brothers Donnell Hoyes, 35, and Terence Hoyes, 29, both of Hempstead, who sold heroin and cocaine from a Hempstead home that the younger brother shared with his girlfriend and five children, authorities said.
As investigators delved deeper into the brothers’ drug ring, officials said, they discovered Ramis’ connection to the Hoyes, as well as to four other drug-dealing organizations who cut, packaged, and trafficked product throughout Nassau and Suffolk.
In addition to the Hoyes brothers, Ramis is accused of supplying drugs to operations run by Terence Hoyes, Lonnie McKithen, Shameek Porter and Ronald Gilbert — all Nassau residents with Suffolk ties — as well as roughly 50 other dealers throughout the state, official said.
The organizations targeted Thursday sold an estimated $2 million to $3 million worth of heroin and cocaine during the past four months alone, Singas said, some of which they delivered door to door.
During the investigation, more than $250,000 worth of cocaine and 50 grams of heroin was seized by police, officials said. About $125,000 in cash also was seized, including $75,000 on Thursday alone, officials said.
“None of these people arrested today are what we would consider low-level street dealers,” Singas said. “They are all profiteers and sit atop of their own narcotics pyramids, with their own geographic areas.”
Among the drugs sold by the Hoyes brothers were bags of heroin marked with the brand name “Jordan,” which investigators connected to five overdoses on Long island, officials said.
Authorities also seized several vehicles, including a BMW 7 Series that was used to make drug deliveries. Another seized vehicle had a hidden compartment in which several hundred grams of cocaine were found, officials said.
“We are facing a crisis when it comes to heroin addiction. It’s not just happening in bad neighborhoods, in big cities; it’s happening right here in suburban Long Island,” said Michael Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the New York FBI Criminal Division.
A record 442 people died of opiate overdoses on Long Island in 2015 — up from 403 a year earlier — with heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl responsible for a majority of those deaths, records show.
Thursday’s arrests followed at least nine months of investigation and involved law enforcement agencies that included the FBI, Nassau, and Suffolk County police, officials said.