The East End Drug Task Force arrested nine men this week who were allegedly involved in selling and buying an especially potent heroin that can be traced to at least half a dozen overdoses on the South Fork, the Suffolk County district attorney's office said Wednesday.
According to District Attorney Thomas J. Spota's office, the heroin, marked with a red-lettered "Hollywood" stamp, made it into the hands of users as far east as Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton, although the street dealers are from the Riverhead area.
They are facing major felony charges in Suffolk County Criminal Court.
Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the D.A., said local law enforcement development information that proves the heroin was also used in Southampton Town, Southampton Village, Quogue, Greenport, Miller Place, Rocky Point, and Ronkonkoma. Evidence was found at the scene of at least half a dozen overdoses — including user who overdosed twice — and information was also gleaned from surveillance of the drug buys, Mr. Clifford said.
Heroin with the Hollywood stamp was first discovered on the North and South Forks at the scene of overdoses in 2011. None of the overdoses were fatal.
The task force undercover detectives, made up of officers from across the East End, also made purchases and witnessed drug deals in parking lots along Route 58 in Riverhead, in front of stores like the Home Depot, the Tanger Outlet Mall, and Walmart, at gas stations, and even in front of the State Department of Motor Vehicles. Deals also reportedly went down in the McDonald's parking lot on Route 24 in Riverside.
Detectives used confidential informants and wiretaps to help make the arrests and indict the defendants.
The D.A. described the Hollywood-stamped heroin as a premium brand of heroin that local addicts would pay "a premium price" for — up to 50 to 100-percent more than other street heroin — because of its potency. While the average cost of heroin in Suffolk County is about $10 per bag, Hollywood heroin cost $15 to $20, he said.
Mr. Spota said the three New York City defendants — Jose Calvente, 65, Jose Morales, 72, and Carlos Ramos, 52 — have lengthy criminal histories. In total, they have 28 felony and misdemeanor convictions between them, mostly drug-related, he said. Charged with second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, among other things, they are being held on bail of between $200,000 and $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond.
The local men are facing top charges of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. They are Leroy Langhorne, 41, Leon Langhorne, 38, and Robert Baker, 46, all of Riverhead, and Farrow Sims, 42, of Calverton. Two others, Jerome Trent, 58, of Riverhead, and Joseph Thomas, 41, of Mastic, have been charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, among other counts.