A Wantagh man who allegedly racked up thousands of dollars in weekly drug sales is behind bars on multiple felony charges after a bust Saturday that police said led to a $20,000 drug stash and evidence linking him to two fatal overdoses.
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a Monday news conference that authorities believe there is a connection between Benji Diskin, 61, and two drug overdose deaths in Suffolk along with one non-fatal overdose in Nassau, all this year.
Court records show Diskin pleaded not guilty to several drug offenses in Hempstead district court Sunday before a judge set his bond at $200,000. Ryder confirmed Diskin could face more charges but declined to elaborate on what he called an ongoing probe, saying, “I can’t discuss the details of it.”
Law enforcement officials said the probe was part of what they’ve dubbed Operation Natalie, a multipronged attack on Nassau’s opioids crisis, namely education, awareness, enforcement, diversion and treatment.
Diskin's arrest grew out of a long-term investigation by the Long Island Heroin Task Force, according to authorities, who said he sold about $36,000 in drugs every week, stashing them in his home and in an Amityville storage unit.
Police said they seized heroin, cocaine, crack, oxycodone, Suboxone, clonazepam and about $9,500 in cash after searches Sunday morning at those two locations. Among other items recovered were soda cans with false tops that popped off so drugs could be hidden inside, scales and drug packaging, according to police.
On Saturday evening, detectives saw Diskin park a Hyundai Elantra on Grove Street off Railroad Avenue in Wantagh before another man got into the backseat and gave Diskin money, according to a felony complaint.
Diskin gave the man a red plastic bag with cocaine inside that police later seized, while also arresting that man, court records show.
Police charged Diskin, of the 300 block of Twin Lane South, with seven counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, including one second-degree count, five third-degree counts and one fourth-degree count. He also faces two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, according to authorities.
Ryder said Diskin had 24 arrests on his record since 1977, and state records show the man has served multiple upstate prison sentences for drug-related crimes.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Monday that although Diskin “is not a pharmacist,” he sold “a wide variety of drugs.”
She added: “We all know that we have a drug crisis here on Long Island . . . . And we always say that we can’t solve it by enforcement alone. But enforcement is an incredibly important part of making sure that we hold dealers accountable and keep our families and our communities safe.”