An alleged Latin Kings gang member supplied cocaine to a narcotics ringleader in an operation that pumped drugs onto the streets of Long Beach for several years before recent arrests disrupted the criminal enterprise, authorities said Friday.
Now five people are charged with at least one felony after a 14-month probe into a ring that prosecutors said was centered on the seaside city’s Beech Street corridor.
Authorities said the ring's structure was notable in that it was highly organized and tightly knit, which helped to keep its business running for years without law enforcement interference as members only did deals with insiders.
Besides heroin and cocaine, authorities said the ring also sold crack, oxycodone pills and Xanax to dozens of people in the city, Atlantic Beach and Inwood.
The recent arrests mark at least the second significant drug bust in Long Beach in about two years, following the unrelated arrests of 16 Latin Kings members and associates in early 2016 after a joint operation by federal and local authorities.
The Nassau County district attorney’s office identified the alleged Beech Street operation ringleader as Robert Gause, 49, of Atlantic Beach, saying the man also known as “Bean” faces up to a decade behind bars if convicted of the drug possession charge against him.
Court records show Gause is free on $50,000 bond after his Hempstead court arraignment last week.
"My client maintains his innocence. He looks forward to his day in court," Gause's attorney, William Shanahan, said Friday.
Prosecutors identified the other defendants as Carlos Andujar, 34, of Inwood, and Long Beach residents Rodney Coward, 43, Ronnie Sutton, 45, and Harold Chestnut, 59.
Andujar’s attorney, Steven Gaitman, declined to comment Friday. Attorneys for the other defendants, all arraigned in the past week, could not be reached for comment. All the defendants pleaded not guilty.
Authorities said that during the probe they seized more than half a kilogram of drugs and 100 pills, with a combined street value of about $650,000. They also reported recovering a loaded revolver, a shotgun and heroin from Sutton’s home.
Authorities have charged that Andujar, an alleged Latin Kings gangster, supplied cocaine and crack to Gause, who then funneled the drugs to Coward, Sutton and Chestnut for sale locally.
Gause also had connections to buy and resell heroin, oxycodone and Xanax, according to prosecutors.
Authorities said many of the drug sales were done in hand-to-hand transactions near the city's train station area, and that investigators did surveillance and arranged drug buys as they worked to break up the ring after getting a tip in mid-2017.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement that her office teamed with Nassau police, Long Beach police and Freeport police on the bust that “was able to make a significant dent in the flow of drugs into Long Beach and surrounding communities.”