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Narcotics
08/28/2014

Suffolk County, ICE HSI announce Long Island cocaine ring bust

Suffolk County, ICE HSI announce Long Island cocaine ring bust
HSI New York Deputy Special Agent in Charge Tony Scandiffio, speaking, and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announce the indictment of 19 people on cocaine trafficking charges at a press conference Tuesday.

NEW YORK — The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced Wednesday the takedown of a cocaine distribution network and the indictments of 19 people on charges of operating as a major drug trafficker and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. This event stems from an investigation by HSI, the Suffolk County Police Department, the Amityville Village Police Department, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The investigation began in June 2013, when 20 kilograms of cocaine bound for the residence of defendant Juan Funes, 39, on Bennett Place in Amityville, were seized in California by HSI special agents working as part of a special task force in Los Angeles.

"Up until that time, Funes would take his California shipments and resell the cocaine to other drug dealers in Suffolk County," said Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota. "The California enforcement effort was a major disruption to the cocaine supply line to Long Island."

Investigators learned that Funes had cross-country drivers delivering cocaine from southern California to Suffolk County in cars and SUV's outfitted with "traps" to hide the narcotics.

"It is believed the drugs were imported from Mexico to California and then transported here by couriers, one of them identified as Brizaura Rodriguez, 34, of Bellerose, Queens, who is charged with conspiracy for her role as a courier," said Spota.

The Suffolk investigation by HSI and the DA's Squad culminated in the execution of 16 search warrants and the subsequent indictments of 19 people including six men charged with operating as a major trafficker, a class "A" felony.

The Amityville Village Police Department played a critical role in the investigation by surveilling suspects and providing intelligence via local sources, as well as other investigative work.

Charged as major traffickers are Juan Funes of Amityville, Rafael Rodriguez, of West Babylon, and four Copiague men: Elvis Caba, Victor Nunez, Juan Santana, and Angel Velez-Funes. A dozen more suspects are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and various other narcotics possession crimes. The district attorney said approximately 150 HSI agents and forty DA's Squad detectives executed the warrants and seized 19 handguns, some loaded, some with defaced serial numbers, along with six assault rifles, and more than $400,000 in cash.

"These arrests dismantle an insidious drug trafficking organization that allegedly operated throughout Long Island for years, pushing its poison to countless users and ruining lives in the process," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "Long Island residents deserve safe communities, free of dangerous drugs and the violence that comes with them, and HSI will continue to partner with local law enforcement to achieve these goals."

Spota said sixteen court-authorized telephone taps were employed during the joint investigation.

The district attorney added that many of those arrested "lived two lives" by blending into the community holding legitimate jobs, "a fact that is usually not the case when law enforcement encounters suspected cocaine dealers," Spota said.

"Like Funes, who ran a cleaning service with thirty employees, many members of the drug ring worked," said Spota. "Defendant Nunez is a taxi driver, defendants Rafael and Kevin Rodriguez co-own a gutter business, defendant Jesus Simi operates a delicatessen and Juan Rosario worked at two Eye Centers as an optical lens maker."

Defendant List:

  • Juan Santana
    • 1 count – Operating as a Major Trafficker
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Juan Funes
    • 2 counts – Operating as a Major Trafficker
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Angel Velez-Funes
    • 1 count – Operating as a Major Trafficker
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Victor Nunez
    • 1 count – Operating as a Major Trafficker
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Rafael Rodriguez
    • 1 count – Operating as a Major Trafficker
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Elvis Caba
    • 1 count – Operating as a Major Trafficker
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Edilio Almonte
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Cary Cognat
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Juan Espinal
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Charles Henderson
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Edgar Rivera-Galdamez
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Brizaura Rodriguez
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Jose Ariel Rodriguez
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Kevin Rodriguez
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Juan Rosario
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Michael Rosati
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
    • 1 count – Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 1st
  • Michael Russo
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Jesus Sime
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
  • Scott Wilson
    • 1 count – Conspiracy 2nd
    • 1 count – Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 2nd