Suffolk County authorities say they've thwarted an alleged multi-million dollar cross-country drug distribution network involving a father and son, seizing cocaine, heroin and oxycodone with a street value of about $4 million, more than $1.5 million in cash and eight illegal firearms.
Five people were arrested, three of whom were charged with being major traffickers, on Saturday after the conclusion of a year-long investigation using court-approved wiretaps and surveillance, by Suffolk police officers and members of the Suffolk District Attorney's office on the Drug Enforcement Administration's Long Island Task Force, authorities said Monday.
“The magnitude of this drug distribution ring is enormous; they were responsible for peddling millions of dollars in narcotics on an almost weekly basis,” Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a statement. “Not only did this organization continue their illicit operation during the coronavirus pandemic, they were also exploiting the limited availability of certain narcotics during the health crisis to generate even greater profits off their sales.”
Authorities allege James Sosa, 25, of Wading River and his father, Anthony Leonardi, 46, of Coram, along with another defendant, Brian Sullivan, 24, of Lake Grove, would either fly on a commercial aircraft or drive across the country to pick up the drugs in California about every two weeks. The defendants are also accused of sending drugs through the mail.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said officers from the department’s Firearms Suppression Team, as well as from Narcotics, K-9 and Emergency Services Unit, executed six search warrants at homes in Lake Grove, Wading River, Port Jefferson Station, Coram, Selden and Brentwood on Saturday, seizing 16 kilograms of cocaine and 2 kilograms of heroin, approximately 4,000 oxycodone pills and several luxury vehicles. Authorities had seized another 1 kilo of cocaine earlier in the investigation.
The drugs were sold on the streets of Long Island, as well as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, she said.
“By intercepting 17 kilos of cocaine and arresting five people, three of whom are major traffickers, this investigation has a significant impact on the drug supply in Suffolk County and will help us stop the spread of narcotics,” Hart said.
Sosa and Sullivan are each charged with two counts of operating as a major trafficker, an A-1 felony, as well as conspiracy and drug possession and sales charges. Sosa’s bail was set at $7.5 million cash, $7.5 million bond or $15 million partially-secured bond. Sullivan’s was set at $5 million cash, $5 million bond or $10 million partially-secured bond.
Dashawn Jones, 33, of Passaic, New Jersey, is charged with one count of operating as a major trafficker, drug possession and conspiracy charges. His bail was set at $2.5 million cash, $ 2.5 million bond or $5 million partially-secured bond.
Leonardi was charged with second-degree conspiracy and was put on supervised release at his arraignment.
Anthony Cyntje, 22, of Passaic, New Jersey, who authorities said works as a corrections officer in New Jersey, was charged with felony drug possession and conspiracy and was released on his own recognizance.
Sosa’s attorney, Glenn Obedin, said he’s only been able to speak to his client through video because of the pandemic.
“We understand there are very significant charges; we're still in the process of investigating what's going on here,” said Obedin, of Central Islip. “We’re disappointed with the initial amount of bail that was set in the case. I thought it was an outrageous amount, which I voiced to the court.”
Katherine Fernandez, the attorney for Sullivan, said she has not yet received any discovery at this early stage in the case, so she can’t speak to the specific allegations.
“There was cash recovered from hisapartment, but there was no drugs and no drug paraphernalia,” Fernandez said.
She said her client’s family was struggling to come up with funds to make his bail.
“If somebody’s such a big drug kingpin, wouldn’t they be able to afford bail? That’s what his family’s trying to scrounge together.”
Attorneys for the other defendants could not be reached for comment.