Meth In The City
NOV 30 -- (New York, NY) - The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced today that ten defendants have been charged with federal felony offenses associated with the illegal operation of meth labs throughout New York City and Long Island. The joint investigation leading to the charges was conducted under the auspices of the United States Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, with assistance from the Suffolk County Police Department. Seven of the defendants were arrested yesterday and appeared before Judge Roanne L. Mann, at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn.
Joining DEA representatives in making the announcement on National Methamphetamine Awareness Day were: Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ron Walker, Inspector-in-Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, New York Division, and Richard Dormer, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department.
“The danger of meth labs has spread from Mid-America to Midtown,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Karen P. Tandy. “Meth labs are toxic time bombs—they reek of poisonous chemicals that endanger children and the environment and rack up health care costs. In New York City, the potential for damage is enormous—drug criminals are playing with fire in apartment buildings that thousands of innocent people call home. With today’s arrests, we’re extinguishing those fires before they become explosions and ensuring that those who put New York’s citizens at risk pay the price."
Operation Red Fusion targeted individuals in New York City and Long Island who imported red-phosphorus and other restricted chemicals, such as iodine, which are known to be used to manufacture methamphetamine in illegal laboratories. Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. It is chemically related to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of methamphetamine are greater, resulting in a high potential for abuse and addiction.
“The chemicals used to make methamphetamine in a clandestine lab are very hazardous. It doesn’t matter if a lab is active or inactive -- what matters is that the lab is dismantled and the threat of an explosion or chemical spill removed. The defendants’ need for methamphetamine led them to learn how to ‘cook’ meth themselves, and placed innocent bystanders, neighbors, coworkers, and the community in harm’s way. DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to keeping our communities safe from the perils of clandestine labs and the threat of methamphetamine abuse," said DEA Special Agent-in-Charge John Gilbride.
Agents discovered nine operational methamphetamine laboratories and equipment used in growing psilocybin mushrooms and marijuana, as well as the seizure of quantities of manufactured methamphetamine and hundreds of grams of restricted chemicals, including red phosphorus and iodine. The locations of the drug laboratories included a penthouse apartment overlooking the United Nations, a garage bay at a Manhattan automobile dealership, a pickup truck, and a single family residence and apartments located on Long Island.
The defendants are not members of a single organization, but rather acted independently, producing personal use quantities of methamphetamine. They include a corporate executive, an automobile mechanic, and a university teaching assistant.
The drug and chemical seizures, and the dismantling and cleanup of the secret laboratories, were supervised by agents assigned to DEA’s Clandestine Laboratory Team, part of Group D-22 of the DEA’s New York Field Division, who have received special training due to the volatile nature of the labs, the highly toxic waste they produce as a byproduct, and the significant threat the labs pose to the public’s safety.
“The deleterious effects of methamphetamine on those who use it can only be matched by the potentially destructive force of the laboratories that make it,” added United States Attorney Mauskopf. “Methamphetamine poses a double threat because it places not only the drug abuser at risk, but the public at large each time the drug is produced, especially in a densely-populated area such as New York City and its suburbs. The charges announced today should serve as a ‘wake-up call’ that the scourge of methamphetamine is not a distant problem but is present right here in our communities.”
U.S. Postal Inspector-in-Charge Walker stated, “The mission of the US Postal Inspection Service, in part, is to protect the nation’s mail system from criminal misuse. That includes preventing the mailing of illicit drugs and components used to manufacture them. The mission of this taskforce was to help keep these drugs off our streets and these dangerous labs out of our neighborhoods. Both missions have been accomplished thanks to the teamwork and dedication of the postal inspectors, DEA agents and detectives of the Suffolk County Police Department who took part in this investigation.”
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Dormer observed, “Methamphetamine is the ‘crack’ of the 21st century. It can have lethal effects at any time from production to ingestion. Toxic waste is created producing it and ruined lives are the result of abusing it. We in local law enforcement are committed to work with our federal counterparts pooling resources to insure that those who would produce or use methamphetamine are detected, arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
If convicted, the defendants Michael Knibb, Eric Wright, Christopher Beltzer, Nicholaos Georgopoulos, Allen Jasovsky, Christopher Bigoness, Arkady Koroshikh, and Mehmetcan Dosemeci face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, and the defendants Steven Satornino and Adam Mills face a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven L. D’Alessandro.
Name: Michael Knibb
Name: Eric Wright (fugitive)
Name: Christopher Beltzer
Name: Nicholaos Georgopoulos
Name: Allen Jasovsky
Name: Christopher Bigoness
Name: Steven Satornino
Name: Adam Mills
Name: Arkady Koroshikh
Name: Mehmetcan Dosemeci
The Nine Laboratories’ Locations:
32-82 33rd Street, Astoria, NY
Audio is available by dialing 1-888-557-6494. Dial mailbox number #701 to hear the message from Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride.