Forty defendants indicted as part of Operation Honeycomb in joint NCDA, FBI Long Island Gang Task Force, ATF Task Force, NCPD, Postal Service, DEA, State Police Investigation
Two defendants allegedly conducted narcotics business from illegal “day care” centers in Hempstead and Rosedale
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that 40 people have been indicted as part of Operation Honeycomb for their alleged involvement in a major narcotic trafficking ring that operates in the Hempstead area.
DA Singas said that the NCDA with the ATF started investigating an increase of violence and drug-dealing in the Hempstead area in October 2019. After several drug and gun purchases, the NCDA applied for electronic eavesdropping warrants in February 2020 for the purpose of identifying large-scale narcotic suppliers in the Hempstead area.
The COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March 2020 and as a result, the cost of cocaine began to vary widely, with demand vastly exceeding supply. Cocaine prices rose from approximately $32,000 per kilogram to a peak of $55,000 per kilogram in August 2020.
Five defendants allegedly sold a cocktail of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. One defendant allegedly cut heroin with fentanyl and morphine.
Data from the County Medical Examiner’s toxicology lab through September 2020, indicates that fatal overdoses have spiked more than 30%. Additionally, an opioid was detected in 83 per cent of the fatal overdoses involving cocaine.
As the investigation expanded, nine individuals emerged as alleged major traffickers: Able McTootle, Eric Butler, Willy Matias, Allen Evans, Eric Poston, Matthew Williams a/k/a Vernon Howard, Orlando Ramsay, Rodney Highsmith and an unapprehended co-defendant. The crime of operating as a major trafficker requires the aggregate value of narcotics possessed or sold by the trafficker to exceed $75,000 during a period of six months or less. The charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 25 – life.
These individuals allegedly acted as major suppliers to numerous smaller dealers in Nassau County and variously worked together to obtain and distribute narcotics.
Prosecutors allege that drugs were trafficked from as far away as Puerto Rico, as well as California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut. During the execution of two search warrants, officers learned that two defendants, Lex Lloyd and an un-apprehended co-defendant, allegedly conducted narcotic business from day care centers in Hempstead and Rosedale.
Approximately 520 grams of cocaine, 50 oxycodone pills, two narcotics presses and bullets were recovered from Lloyd’s residence on Pierson Avenue in Hempstead.
Approximately 100 grams of cocaine and 100 grams of crack cocaine were allegedly recovered from the un-apprehended co-defendant’s residence in Rosedale.
One defendant allegedly used the mail to send three kilograms of cocaine that were recovered during this operation.
The investigation is called Operation Honeycomb because a large volume of drugs was allegedly packaged and stored at a defendant’s home, which was frequently referred to as the “honeycomb” by co-defendants in wiretapped calls.
In total, the street value of the narcotics seized is estimated to be approximately $2,772,000.
As a result of the investigation, the following items were recovered through search warrants and car stops:
District Attorney Madeline Singas said, “This massive multi-agency takedown strikes a heavy blow to the narcotics trafficking infrastructure in our region. We recovered huge quantities of drugs, stockpiles of weapons and 40 drug traffickers and dealers have been indicted for their alleged roles in this dangerous network. I’m grateful to our partners for their work and incredible perseverance to protect our communities.”
William F. Sweeney, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI New York said, “The scourge of illegal narcotics trafficking, and the violence associated with it, has plagued our communities for far too long. This investigation focused on the worst criminals in some of the most dangerous areas on Long Island, and the collective effort of all the law enforcement entities involved is commendable. The enforcement actions announced here today should give members of the community some comfort in knowing these violent offenders won’t be putting their lives in danger any longer.
John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF New York Field Division said: “For years, Long Island’s worst of the worst have terrorized our communities with acts of violence and the trafficking of firearms – both in furtherance of operating a narcotics enterprise on our streets regardless of the lives negatively impacted. But today, thanks to the efforts of the ATF New York Field Division Long Island Field Office, working with our partners from the Hempstead Police Department, the Nassau County Police Department and the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force, this criminal organization has been silenced once and for all.”
Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service said: “The Postal Inspection Service places a high priority on investigations involving the use of the U.S. Mail to facilitate the transportation of drugs, firearms and other dangerous and illegal substances. Using the U.S. Mail for gifts, greeting cards, and on-line purchases, an absolute YES; Illegal drugs—an absolute NO. If you send illegal drugs through the U.S. mail, you’re going to jail!”
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “These indictments and seizures are a direct result of the hard work and cooperation among law enforcement agencies. I commend our Troopers and applaud all of our partners for their dedication to fighting this type of violent, organized crime. The disruption of this operation serves as a strong reminder that activities such as drug trafficking and the violence that is associated by these types of crimes will be relentlessly be pursued by law enforcement.”
The arrests are the result of an 18-month investigation by the NCDA; Federal Bureau of Investigation Long Island Gang Task Force; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Long Island Field Division; the Nassau County Police Department; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the New York State Police; and Drug Enforcement Administration. The Task Force includes members of the FBI, New York State Police, Nassau County Police, Suffolk County Police, Hempstead Police and Rockville Centre Police departments, as well as the Nassau County and Suffolk County sheriff’s departments.
As of Monday morning, 33 defendants charged in this indictment have been apprehended and/or arraigned.
Senior Investigative Counsels Patrick Brand and Lee Genser, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Andrew Lee of DA Singas’ Major Case Bureau are prosecuting the case.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.