A nondescript single-family house in a quiet neighborhood in Jamesport probably provided cover for a while, but in the end, an extensive investigation into gang-related drug trafficking in the Riverhead area led investigators to the Washington Avenue residence, guns in hand.
The Jamesport house was one of several locations raided early Wednesday morning, November 14, by enforcement personnel armed not only with weapons but also with court warrants.
It was a coordinated bust designed to take a significant chunk out of the vast distribution network. At least one arrest was made at Holiday Inn Express hotel in Riverhead, and a motorcade of official cars rumbled the Calverton Hills condo complex just after dawn. Reports of 12 arrests swelled to 15 by day’s end, and many of those taken into custody were bad hombres, police who aided the operation said: member of the Bloods street gang.
The United States Department of Justice coordinated the takedown which involved FBI agents, Riverhead Town Police, NYS Troopers, the Long Island Gang Task Force, and the Suffolk County East End Drug Task Force.
“The toxic mix of street gangs, drug dealing, and illegal firearms poses a direct threat to the safety of our citizens and our community,” said United States Attorney Richard Donoghue in a statement announcing the arrests.
“The Eastern District and our law enforcement partners in the FBI, ATF and Suffolk County will continue to target, penetrate and destroy criminal gangs that inflict addiction, violence and grief on the people of Suffolk County,” he added.
Dayna Barrow, 35, of Riverhead, Kenneth Belcher, 31, of Riverhead, Tramaine Brown, 29, of Jamesport, John Gamble, 37, of Shirley, Kotarra Jackson, 36, of Riverhead, Daniel Harris, 25, of Riverhead, Terrill Latney, 39, of Riverhead, Quandol Lewis, 34, of Riverhead, Matthew Pittma, 43, of Southampton, Deon Shorter, 22, of Mastic, and Demario Weston, 34, of Riverhead were among those arrested.
On Wednesday, three separate indictments were unsealed in federal court in Central Islip charging 12 defendants as part of a coordinated federal and state takedown of several large-scale crack cocaine distribution operations on the East End, according to a release from the United States Attorney. Three other arrests were apparently made in the course of the raids.
The investigation began early in the year. Police said cocaine was cooked and processed into crack, which was sold on the street. Search warrants were executed Wednesday at multiple locations and police recovered seven firearms, including an AR-15 rifle, three kilograms of cocaine, four pounds of marijuana, a quantity of crack cocaine and heroin, and $10,000 cash. Several of those arrested have prior convictions for drug related charges.
The cases are being handled by the Department of Justice’s Long Island Criminal Division and Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole Boeckmann and Michael Maffei are in charge of the prosecution, officials said.