Three men who marketed the strength of their fentanyl-heroin mix with pictures of unconscious users and sold 220 pounds of narcotics across Long Island have been indicted on felony drug and firearms charges, federal prosecutors said Friday.
The trio also is being investigated for at least two fatal overdoses and another overdose that “resulted in the victim having permanent loss of significant cognitive functions,” among other injuries, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Richard P. Donoghue said in a letter to a judge requesting that the defendants be held without bail. U.S. District Court Judge Joseph F. Bianco granted the request.
The indictment, handed down Wednesday, charges that the three Mastic Beach residents — Gary Davis, 38; Joel Lee Faison, 42; and Tamien Trent, 36 — sold vast amounts of drugs, including synthetic fentanyl, from September 2014 to September 2018. All three have criminal records, according to the prosecutors, who also charged them with selling “kilogram weight distribution of crack cocaine."
“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants sold tremendous amounts of heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues throughout Long Island, flooding our streets with life-threatening drugs and enriching themselves at the expense of those suffering from addiction,” Donoghue said in a statement joined by other officials.
Attorneys for Davis and Trent were not immediately available. Faison's lawyer could not be reached.
To increase their profits, these “sophisticated” drug traffickers bought fentanyl from China “at a cost substantially less than the cost of heroin,” and then sold it as heroin, prosecutors said.
They protected their organization and distribution chain with firearms, including shotguns, prosecutors said. Guns, they said, are the “tools of the drug trade."
On Jan. 13, 2017, Davis possessed Remington shotgun shells, .38 caliber Winchester lead round nose ammunition, .257 Remington hollow point ammunition, 9 mm Wolf ammunition, .357 Hornady ammunition, and .25 caliber Fiocchi ammunition, prosecutors said. Trent was similarly equipped, they said.
Prosecutors also alleged that Trent “ has boasted to a government witness that the narcotics they conspired to sell are rendering people unconscious and, in some instances, killing them."
The same defendant, at least once, “forwarded pictures of unconscious drug customers to demonstrate the potency of the narcotics they are distributing,” prosecutors said.
“What is particularly sickening about these defendants is that they used as a selling point the fact that the drugs were causing overdoses. They did so by selling fentanyl analogues — synthetic narcotics that are specifically designed by drug dealers to evade law enforcement,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said.
The group might have obtained sizable discounts for bulk purchases from China, according to evidence recovered by investigators.
A screenshot between the defendants and their international supplier, which prosecutors said was uncovered from Davis’ phone, showed someone offering “my dear friend” two kilograms for $9,000, “and if you buy 5 kg, we will send you more 500g free.” Additionally, the individual said, “if you buy 10kg we will send you 1 kg free."
The charges in the 13-count indictment carry minimum sentences of 15 years, according to the prosecutors. The top sentence is life, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the charges were based on testimony from multiple witnesses, drug purchases by confidential informants and admissions made by Faison and Trent.
In 2003, Davis was arrested with a kilogram of cocaine during a car stop, prosecutors said, along with several cell phones and $7,000 in cash. He was convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Faison was given the chance to take part in a “judicial diversion program” after a Jan. 5, 2017, arrest and conviction for criminal possession of a controlled substance, prosecutors said. He has yet to be sentenced, prosecutors said.
On the day of his arrest, when he was found with more than 50 grams of fentanyl, about 100 methamphetamine pills, and more than $600 in cash, he “admitted to law enforcement that he was involved in the distribution of the narcotics he possessed,” prosecutors said.
Less than two weeks later, a warrant was obtained to search a facility used by the defendants, prosecutors said. The location of the facility was not disclosed.
None of the men were there. Surveillance video showed they used it as a distribution center, prosecutors said. Items found there included a cash register, drug packaging materials and drug processing equipment.
On Dec. 5, 2017, Davis, who was sitting in a car, was arrested with half a kilogram of fentanyl, $4,167 in cash, three cell phones, and mail bearing the name of Trent, who fled, prosecutors said.
One day later, another search warrant was executed.
“Undeterred by law enforcement’s previous execution of a search warrant at Distribution Facility #1, Distribution Faculty #2 was set up directly next to Distribution Facility #1,” prosecutors said. They said they found two hydraulic kilogram presses, two digital scales, a safe with $14,600, and documents with Trent’s name.
Trent also has a criminal history. He was sentenced to 5 years of probation after being arrested and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance on Sept. 4, 2014. At that time, he “admitted to being part of an ongoing heroin distribution operation,” prosecutors said.
“Taking these three high-level suppliers off the streets will make a significant impact on the amount of drugs that are available for sale,” said Suffolk police commissioner Geraldine Hart.