Police Task Force Busts ‘Hollywood’ Heroin Ring In Riverhead

0
20

Authorities say a joint police task force has taken down a heroin distribution ring in Riverhead that was selling heroin marked with the “Hollywood” brand throughout Southampton Town and across the North Fork.

In total, nine men were arrested by members of the East End Drug Task Force on various dates between October and February, and now each faces multiple drug-related felonies.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota, whose office runs the task force, said the investigation into the ring, which trafficked drugs from East Harlem to the East End, took more than a year and used undercover police officers, confidential informants and wire-tapping.

The Hollywood heroin operation consisted of two groups, Mr. Spota said, calling one the “Riverhead crew,” which consisted of Leroy Langhorne, 41, of Riverside; Leon Langhorne, 38, of Riverhead; Joseph Thomas, 41, of Mastic; Robert Baker, 46, of Riverhead; Jerome Trent, 58, of Riverhead; and Farrow Sims, 42, of Calverton. This group sold the heroin in small bags with the name “Hollywood” printed on them in red ink, primarily in parking lots outside businesses along County Road 58 in Riverhead, including Walmart, Home Depot, the Tanger Outlets, the Department of Motor Vehicles office, and various gas stations, as well as the McDonald’s on Flanders Road in Riverside, according to authorities.

“The addicts, the street people who were using the heroin, were mainly coming from Southampton, Southampton Village, Quogue, Westhampton, Sag Harbor—then on the North Fork, Southold and Greenport, then going into the western part of the county: Miller Place, Rocky Point and Shirley,” Mr. Spota said during a press conference held last Wednesday, February 19, inside the Suffolk County Criminal Courthouse in Riverside. “All the people that wanted those drugs, the addicts, were traveling to Riverhead, where they would meet these individuals.”

The Riverhead crew purchased the heroin from a second group, Mr. Spota explained, which consisted of three men based out of Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood: Jose Calvente, 65, Jose Morales, 75, and Carlos Ramos, 52, all of whom have multiple previous drug-related felony and misdemeanor convictions, Mr. Spota said.

Heroin has been an ongoing issue in Suffolk County for years, according to the district attorney. The prevalence of the drug has caused increased overdoses in recent years, six of which were linked to the “Hollywood” heroin, Mr. Spota said, adding that the brand is known on the streets as being among the most potent types available.

He said although the approximately 2,000 bags containing about 0.03 grams of heroin each that were confiscated through various raids on the drug ring have been tested, he did not know the purity of the heroin off the top of his head.

“There is no community in Suffolk County that has been able to escape or is immune from the devastating consequences of heroin,” Mr. Spota said. “Suffolk County is particularly attractive to those in the heroin trade because it’s essentially an affluent community and the people in Suffolk County have money and that attracts drug dealers.”

The drug has become popular among young people because it costs between $9 and $10 per bag, on average, he noted. The Hollywood-brand heroin often sold for $15 to $20 a bag because of its potency.

The investigation that led to the arrests of the nine men involved was conducted by the East End Drug Task Force, a cooperative police organization overseen by the district attorney’s office and consisting of police departments throughout the East End of Long Island, including Southampton Town, and Southampton and Westhampton Beach villages, all of which had representatives at last week’s press conference.

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce said the task force has been beneficial to his department in light of staff reductions to his unit in recent years. He added that it’s important that local departments join forces to combat heroin distribution, particularly the Hollywood brand, which has caused multiple overdoses in Southampton Town.

“Heroin is a powerful and addicting drug, and relatively inexpensive, making it appealing to our youth, so it is imperative that law enforcement make every effort to remove the dealers from our streets,” Chief Pearce wrote in an email.

“A multi-jurisdictional approach,” he continued, “as in the East End Drug Task Force, removes the geographical boundaries faced by town and village departments to address a problem that has no boundaries.”

During the investigation, the agencies confiscated thousands of dollars in cash, 2,000 bags of heroin, a shotgun, a rifle, several cellphones, other drugs, and two cars.

Leroy Langhorne was charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, six counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree conspiracy, all felonies, as well as fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. He was released on his own recognizance.

Leon Langhorne was charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all felonies. He also has been released on his own recognizance.

Mr. Thomas was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all felonies. He was being held in the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Mr. Baker was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy, all felonies. He was being held in Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Mr. Trent was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy, both felonies, as well as seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, all misdemeanors. He was released on his own recognizance.

Mr. Sims was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fourth-degree conspiracy, all felonies, as well as fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor. He was being held in Suffolk County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

Mr. Calvente was charged with seven counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, five counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy, all felonies. He was being held in Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Mr. Spota said Mr. Calvente could face 12½ to 25 years in prison if convicted, as could Mr. Morales, who faces four counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and second-degree conspiracy, all felonies. Mr. Morales was being held in the Suffolk County Jail in Yaphank in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Mr. Ramos was charged with second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy, all felonies. He was being held in the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $250,000 bail, and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted, Mr. Spota said.

“There is no Hollywood ending to this particular case,” Mr. Spota said. “For the dealers, prison awaits them. For the addicts, if they’re lucky, years of drug rehabilitation. No glitz, no glamour, certainly no fame unless, of course, the inevitable may happen where they become another statistic of a drug overdose or fatality.”

Facebook Comments