Law enforcement officials in Suffolk and New York City said Wednesday they've plugged yet another heroin pipeline, but acknowledged it will take many more such efforts to get the cheap and powerful narcotic off the streets.
This latest network, anchored at one end in a "tabletop" operation in the Bronx and the other behind a party planning business in Deer Park, produced $1,277,500 in profit last year for two brothers, who also dealt cocaine, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Kate Wagner.
The brothers, Winston Rose Jr., 35, a parolee from Deer Park, and Uriel Rose, 31, of Bay Shore, were two of 14 people charged in Suffolk.
Robert Maldonado, 28, of the Bronx was charged recently in New York Criminal Court with being their heroin supplier. He is charged with second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and is being held on bail of $100,000.
"The Rose brothers masqueraded as businessmen, hiding behind an events planning company," Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said. "It existed wholly to launder money and to provide cover [as legitimate work] for Winston Rose's parole officer."
Spota said the brothers fed a clientele so desperate that one tried to barter baby formula for drugs.
Yet despite the latest arrests, for heroin trafficking, Spota said, "This epidemic does not show great signs of abating." Along with the addicts created by cheap heroin, he said it has caused a surge in home burglaries and commercial robberies by people who need to pay their drug dealers.
Bridget Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor for New York City, said the operation was a small one for her office, but she saw the enormous impact it had beyond the city line. Like Spota, she acknowledged that cheap heroin coming from Mexican cartels will continue to flow through the city into the suburbs, but she said arrests and prosecution eventually will have an effect.
"We will defeat those challenges," she said.
"We are just going to continue doing what we're doing, to chip away, chip away, chip away," Spota said.
The Rose brothers are charged with operating as a major trafficker, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. They and 12 other people, who Wagner said sold drugs they got from the Roses, are charged with second-degree conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
The operation sold an average of 326 bags of heroin and 3 grams (0.11 ounce) of cocaine a day, Wagner said.
"The Rose brothers have been dealing drugs their whole lives," Wagner said in court. "This, in fact, was a family affair."
The brothers' attorneys said prosecutors misrepresented their business.
"Despite what the people say, it was a legitimate business," Christopher Brocato, Uriel Rose's lawyer, said of the party planning business. Brocato, of Central Islip, said his client had been squatting in abandoned buildings, adding, "Obviously, not the lifestyle of a major drug kingpin."
Winston Rose's lawyer, Phillip Murphy, of Bay Shore, said he knew the party business was real. "I went to the business," he said. "I saw the operation. I don't believe it was a sham. I don't believe it was a front for money laundering."
Murphy said his client has "always been a gentleman. He's always been responsible."
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro set bail for Uriel Rose at $2 million cash or $4 million secured bond, and for Winston Rose at $3 million cash or $6 million secured bond.
Among the other defendants, Spota singled out Dillon Noseda, 26, of East Northport.
"He was the major seller of heroin in the village of Northport and the surrounding communities," Spota said.
Ambro ordered him held on bail of $100,000 cash or $200,000 secured bond.
His attorney, Ian Fitzgerald, of Central Islip, said his client "denies these allegations" and that he had known the Rose brothers for only a couple of months and therefore could not have been a major dealer.