March 25, 2015
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-2906
Seventeen Charged In White Plains Federal Court With Massive Oxycodone And Heroin Conspiracies In And Around Rockland County
MANHATTAN, N.Y. - James Hunt, Special Agent in (SAC) of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement (DEA), Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Thomas Zugibe, Rockland County District Attorney, and Ed Day, Rockland County Executive, announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging 17 defendants with conspiring to distribute oxycodone and heroin in and around Rockland County.
Twelve of the 17 defendants charged in the Indictment unsealed today were arrested today or had previously been taken into custody. Those defendants are expected to be presented in White Plains federal court today before Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy. In a related prosecution, New York State has charged an additional 12 defendants.
DEA SAC Hunt stated: “Throughout the nation, opioid overdose and abuse statistics have become reality in our local towns, suburban communities and inner city. Diverted prescription pain medication and heroin drug crews are public health enemy #1. Today’s arrests of Victor Esteban and his alleged drug crew demonstrate law enforcement’s commitment to arresting those responsible for arming addicts with their drug of choice and protecting residents from the possibility of being another statistic.”
U.S. Attorney Bharara stated: “What we have more and more in this country is poison by prescription. The abuse of prescription painkillers, and oxycodone in particular, has become a crisis of epidemic proportions. Today we announce the unsealing of charges against members of a massive drug trafficking organization who sought to capitalize on this increasingly deadly epidemic. The federal Indictment names 17 defendants, and the Rockland County DA is bringing a related prosecution against 12 additional defendants. We will not permit prescription painkillers and other illegal drugs to decimate our community, our state, or our nation. This has to stop, and we will do everything we can to stop it.”
District Attorney Zugibe stated: “Dealers in this operation are alleged to have sunk to a new low, selling prescription drugs and heroin at popular locations where parents drop off their kids to see a movie, attend a birthday party or spend time ice skating with friends. With today’s federal indictment, we take a giant step to ensure a feeling of safety and security in our community - making certain that Rockland County continues to be a great place to live and work. Our success in this ongoing investigation is the direct result of the exceptional cooperation with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the DEA and state and local law enforcement agencies. My office is dedicated to continuing to work with our partners to target, investigate and bring to justice those who prey on our community.”
County Executive Day said: “We are losing an average of two local residents each month to the scourge of heroin and prescription drugs. It’s happening to wealthy families and to poor families. It doesn’t know any boundaries. This operation demonstrates how police and prosecutors continue to work together to dig in at the local level and hammer away at the drug markets plaguing our neighborhoods. I want to commend District Attorney Zugibe and U.S. Attorney Bharara for leading a dedicated team in the support of making Rockland County a safer community.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment and other documents in the public record:
The defendants were part of a sophisticated drug trafficking (the “Organization”) that operated in the area of Rockland County, New York. The Organization, led by defendant Victor Esteban, distributed massive quantities of oxycodone and heroin, often in highly public locations, including at the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, New York.
Since 2014, members and associates of the Organization have conspired to distribute more than 50,000 oxycodone tablets, with a value in excess of $1 million, in and around Rockland County. The defendants obtained the oxycodone through deceptive means, including the use of forged and fraudulent prescriptions. For example, defendant Jushawn Stevens used his home computer to fill out official blank New York State prescriptions with fraudulent information about purported patients and prescribing doctors. Law enforcement officers also identified a defendant posing as a doctor on the phone when a pharmacy called to inquire about an oxycodone prescription. After generating fraudulent prescriptions, the defendants employed lower-level members of the Organization, known as “runners,” to go to pharmacies across New York State to fill the fraudulent prescriptions.
The principal supplier of heroin to the Organization was Juan Agramonte, who was based in the Bronx. Esteban pooled money with other defendants to purchase significant quantities of heroin from Agramonte, which they then distributed in locations around Rockland County.
The defendants distributed oxycodone and heroin in a multitude of public places. They sold these illicit drugs in the parking lots of the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, New York, at the Mt. Ivy Trailer Park in Pomona, New York, and in various motels around Rockland County, where they would rent rooms to meet with customers.
Certain defendants also celebrated their oxycodone and heroin trafficking activity on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. Some of the defendants referred to themselves as the “TMC” crew, meaning “Too Much Cash.” For example, on one occasion, a defendant posted a message on Twitter saying, “Shout out my TMC bros we taking over the streets.” On another occasion, a defendant posted a message on Twitter saying, “I make money without a 9-5 gimmie some feens a trap fone and I’ll be fine . . . ,” meaning that he did not need a legitimate job, but rather only some drug addicts and a “trap phone” with which to arrange drug deals. This defendant also posted a message saying, “The feds just wanna see me in jail.”
The Indictment charges 17 defendants and contains two counts. Charts containing the names, ages, residences, charges, and maximum penalties for the defendants are set forth below. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion (Group TDS-NY), which comprises agents and officers from the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Town of Orangetown Police Department and the Westchester County Police Department. He also thanked the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office for its participation, and the Internal Revenue Service for its assistance.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Turner and Douglas Zolkind are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.