January 05, 2016
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-2906
Fourteen Plead Guilty In White Plains Federal Court To Participating In Massive Oxycodone And Heroin Conspiracy In And Around Rockland County
MANHATTAN, N.Y. - James Hunt, Special Agent in (SAC) of the New York Division of the U.S. 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 that 14 defendants pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute oxycodone and heroin in and around Rockland County.
On March 25, 2015, an indictment was unsealed charging 17 defendants with conspiring to distribute oxycodone and heroin. The case was assigned to District Judge Kenneth M. Karas. Today, 14 of the defendants pleaded guilty before Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy. The prosecution against the remaining defendants is ongoing.
“In 2014, there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths; 28,647 deaths, or 61%, involved opioids,” said DEA SAC Hunt. “The abuse of diverted pain medication and heroin are destroying lives and enabling drug traffickers to make a toxic profit off addiction. Last March, law enforcement combined resources to identify and arrest 14 of Rockland’s most treacherous opioid drug traffickers, resulting in today’s 14 guilty pleas.”
“The abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin continues to plague too many of our communities,” added U.S. Attorney Bharara. “As they have now admitted through their guilty pleas, these defendants capitalized on this deadly epidemic, working together to distribute massive quantities of oxycodone in Rockland County. Several also trafficked in large quantities of heroin. Prescription pill and heroin abuse is on the rise, but so are law enforcement efforts to stem it. Thanks to the outstanding work of the DEA and our local law enforcement partners, this operation that helped to fuel Rockland County’s heroin and prescription pill problem has been dismantled.”
“This was a large and ongoing drug dealing conspiracy which did great harm to many people, including dozens of Rockland County residents,” District Attorney Zugibe stated. “This case and its 14 guilty pleas are prime examples of how cooperation among federal and local law enforcement can lead to the dismantling of a significant drug trafficking organization that pushed poison into our neighborhoods.”
“These criminals trafficked over 50,000 oxycodone pills and significant amounts of heroin, and in the process destroyed countless lives,” County Executive Day noted. “The nationwide prescription drug and heroin epidemic is fueled by organizations just like this one. The success of this probe is attributed to the ongoing partnership between Rockland County, the U.S. Attorney's Office and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.”
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. The defendants also 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.”
Defendants VICTOR ESTEBAN, ANDREW FLORES, CHRISTIAN MINAYA, EDWIN CEBALLOS, JIMMY RODRIGUEZ, and ELOM KALEDZI pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone and heroin. Defendants MIGUEL CABRERA, ROMELLO DELOATCH, ROLANDO GARCIA, WESLEY JACKSON, BRANDON MORILLO, RAMON MORILLO, and BRANDON THOMAS pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone. Defendant JUAN AGRAMONTE pled guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin.
The charges to which the defendants pled guilty, and the maximum penalties they face, are set forth in a chart below. Also set forth below is a chart with the defendants’ names, ages, and residences. The defendants will be sentenced before Judge Karas in May 2016.
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, the New York State Police, 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.