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Suffolk DA: 12 on East End charged in sale of illegal drugs

The Suffolk District Attorney's Office of Friday announced

The Suffolk District Attorney's Office of Friday announced the indictment of 12 people on the East End in connection with the sale of illegal drugs. Two of those charged in the cocaine operation are 18th Street gang members and another belongs to the Sureños gang, the district attorney's office said. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd has the story.  Credit: Howard Schnapp; Photo Credit: Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Twelve people on Long Island’s East End have been indicted in connection with the sale of illegal drugs, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

The drugs included cocaine and crack cocaine, allegedly sold to hundreds of buyers, chiefly in the Riverhead area, but also in the Hamptons and in the Town of Brookhaven, according to a news release from the office of the district attorney, Timothy Sini.

Sini spokeswoman Sheila Kelly said that at court late this week four of the defendants were ordered held on $1 million bond, two were jailed pending future proceedings and three were freed without bail.

The defendants' attorneys could not be immediately reached.

Three of the defendants have not yet been caught, according to Kelly.

The charges vary among defendants, but among the most serious charges some are facing is operating as a major trafficker. The basis for that charge includes being a "director of a controlled substance organization" and drug selling at least one time over a year or less, worth at least $75,000 in total, according to an indictment in the case.

Other charges include criminal conspiracy, drug sale and drug possession.

The case, based on undercover officers, "roving" surveillance, electronic surveillance and eavesdropping, began in July, and was aimed at allegations of drug sales by the 18th Street gang, the release said.

Two of those indicted are 18th Street gang members and another belongs to the Sureños gang, the release said, although it did not say why the government believes the people are in gangs.

The 18th Street gang, a rival on Long Island of the street gang MS-13, traces its roots to Los Angeles in the 1980s. It splintered to Central America in the mid-1990s during a wave of deportations by the U.S. government and trickled back to the United States, and to Long Island in particular, as migrants came to the area to fill the labor market and a "a really, really small number" were in, or joined, street gangs, according to David Brotherton, a John Jay College professor and author of "Gangs and Society: Alternative Perspectives" and "The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation: Street Politics and the Transformation of a New York City Gang."

The 18th Street gang is one of six or seven major street gangs on Long Island, he said.

The Sureños (Spanish for "Southerners") are a group of Mexican American street gangs with origins in Southern California, according to a gang-recognition guide by the Everett Police Department in the state of Washington.

On Long Island, the investigation resulting in the indictment involved the Suffolk police force, along with town and village counterparts and the federal government.

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