More than a half-million dollars in illegal drugs is off the streets and 14 people face felony charges after law enforcement officials broke up a Nassau narcotics trafficking ring with ties to California, authorities said Thursday.
The operation sold heroin, cocaine and marijuana and the network's top man dealt drugs from his Freeport home and from his job as a janitor at the Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County in Roosevelt, according to prosecutors.
Alleged ringleader Darrell Boyd, 51, ran an “unusually brazen” operation, Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said at a morning news conference.
While the Roosevelt association wasn't aware of the employee's narcotics sales, Singas said, the deals were happening during business hours, showing the widespread nature of the drug problem locally.
"Heroin, as we all know, has reached into every crevice of our community," she said.
A representative of the Roosevelt nonprofit didn't respond to messages Thursday afternoon.
The bust comes as Long Island continues to battle a scourge of opioid abuse that has claimed nearly 3,700 lives in Nassau and Suffolk since 2010.
To that end, Singas said the overall drug investigation is "very much ongoing, as is our multipronged assault on the opioid epidemic in Nassau County."
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Investigators who broke up the ring seized narcotics with a combined street value of about $600,000 to $700,000, including more than 50,000 doses of heroin destined for the streets of Nassau County, authorities said.
The seizures, part of a yearlong probe, also recovered 22 pounds of marijuana, 192 grams of cocaine, a handgun and about $220,000, law enforcement officials said.
The ring allegedly distributed drugs linked to the November fatal heroin overdose of a 62-year-old man in Freeport, according to Singas, who said toxicology results are still pending in the case and further criminal charges could result.
Boyd recently pleaded not guilty at a Nassau County Court arraignment, according to his Mineola attorney, David Haber.
Haber said Thursday he was in the beginning stages of examining the evidence prosecutors provided at Boyd’s arraignment and couldn’t comment specifically on the allegations.
Authorities said Boyd, also known as "Fab," is facing charges that include felony drug sale and possession. If convicted of the top count, Boyd could go to prison for a maximum of 12 1/2 to 25 years.
Boyd sold drugs he acquired from his suppliers on consignment, paying back the dealers after offloading the product, prosecutors said. When Boyd wasn't available, his nephew, Jason Costa, 36, of Roosevelt, sold drugs from his uncle's home, according to investigators.
Costa pleaded not guilty to charges that include felony drug sale counts and conspiracy.
Prosecutors also named Tony McClam, 49, of Roosevelt, as a major player in the ring.
McClam was one of Boyd’s biggest suppliers and shipped drugs from California, according to the district attorney.
As part of the probe, investigators in Orange County, California, seized about $300,000 worth of cocaine, which McClam had arranged for shipment to Nassau County, Singas said.
Authorities executed a search warrant at McClam's home in February, seizing marijuana, heroin and cash, she said.
The uncut heroin could have been made into 40,000 doses on the street, and part of the stash was found hidden in a large homemade candle, according to Singas.
Authorities said they also seized a parcel allegedly sent by McClam to a post office box in California. It included an envelope with about $9,000 in cash for a suspected drug payment and was addressed to a senior prosecutor in her office, according to the district attorney.
"We suspect that McClam was under the misimpression that legal mail is subject to legal privilege and cannot be opened if seized by law enforcement," she said. "He was wrong."
Records show McClam pleaded not guilty at an arraignment last week.
A grand jury indicted him on charges that include operating as a major drug trafficker. Prosecutors said he could go to prison for 25 years to life if found guilty of the top count.
Separately, a Nassau County jury earlier this month convicted McClam of more than a dozen felonies for possessing large amounts of heroin, fentanyl and marijuana, along with three guns. He has yet to be sentenced for those crimes.
McClam is facing up to 39 years behind bars in connection with that conviction, which his attorney in that case, Michael DerGarabedian, said Thursday that McClam plans to appeal.
Prosecutors said three people named in a 33-count grand jury indictment connected to the latest case remain at large.
They identified the others who have been arraigned, all of whom pleaded not guilty, as: Toyer Beavers, 46, of Farmingdale; Veronica Bathea, 25, of Roosevelt; Joey Bell, 53, of Hempstead; Darren Bruce, 50, of Queens; Leonard Forbes, 56, of Roosevelt; Kenta Powell, 42, of Roosevelt; Christopher Thomas, 51, of Roosevelt; and Darrell Wilson, 30, of Hempstead.
“You come into our county, you're gonna deal drugs, we’re gonna come after you,” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said Thursday, while standing at the news conference with a bevy of officials from law enforcement agencies who collaborated in the investigation.
Those agencies included the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force, New York State Police, federal postal officials and a California drug task force.