Suffolk prosecutors unsealed a 27-count indictment Wednesday that accuses three men of participating in a drug trafficking ring that sold cocaine across Long Island.
The arrests were the result of a nearly yearlong investigation by Suffolk County police that relied on wiretaps and other electronic surveillance, according to District Attorney Tim Sini. Jonny Giron, 25, identified by Sini as the central figure in the drug ring, sold cocaine to undercover Suffolk cops 10 times between April 2018 and Feb. 13, according to the indictment.
Giron and his co-conspirators — Victor Alzate, 35, and Santos Renee Canales Gutierrez, also 35 — sold cocaine on a daily basis throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, particularly in Wyandanch, Amityville, Bay Shore and Copiague, Sini said.
“It is our mission with these cases to clean up our communities,” Sini said. “It is our mission to stop the sale of drugs throughout the county.”
Giron was arrested in Meridian, Mississippi, earlier this month after authorities there discovered 3 kilos of cocaine in his car, Sini said. Giron had purchased the cocaine from a supplier in Houston and was driving to New York when he was apprehended, Sini said.
Giron, of Copiague, was charged with 23 counts in the indictment, including operating as a major trafficker and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. Giron faces 25 years to life in prison, if convicted, Sini said. Prosecutors said Giron is a citizen of Honduras and a legal resident of the United States.
Alzate, of Wyandanch, was charged with second-degree conspiracy. Canales Gutierrez, also of Wyandanch, was charged with five counts, including criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and endangering the welfare of a child. Sini said Gutierrez had sold drugs in the presence of a baby. Both men are from Honduras, but their immigration status was not clear Wednesday.
Alzate and Gutierrez face from 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, if convicted, according to Sini.
Judge Philip Goglas on Wednesday ordered Giron to be held in lieu of $2 million cash bail or $4 million bond and Alzate to be held in lieu of $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond. Gutierrez, arraigned Tuesday, was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond.
Giron paid Alzate $2,500 to drive a 2015 Toyota Camry to Houston earlier this month, Sini said. Giron, who flew from New York to Texas, then planned driving the Camry — and 3 kilos of cocaine he purchased in Houston — to New York, but he was stopped by Meridian police. Meridian police did not immediately return a call for comment. Officials also seized a large amount of cash, Sini said.
Defense attorney Christopher P. McGuire of Central Islip said he had not yet seen the evidence against Giron but his client denies the allegations and would mount a vigorous defense. Christopher Gioe of Hauppauge, who represents Alzate, said the evidence so far suggests his client’s involvement in the alleged drug ring was limited to delivering a car to Texas.
Gutierrez’s attorney Scott Zerner of Manhattan declined comment.
The arrests come just weeks after authorities announced the seizure of 3,200 pounds of cocaine from a shipping container in the Port of Newark, the largest haul by law enforcement at that facility in 25 years.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, meanwhile, said last week that 14 members of an “unusually brazen” drug ring that sold cocaine, heroin and other drugs had been arrested.
The arrests, law-enforcement authorities said, suggest cocaine may be making a resurgence in the metro area. Sini said some drug dealers may be reluctant to sell opioids because they fear they will be charged with manslaughter, if a customer dies from an overdose.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that data shows that we are seeing an increase in cocaine,” Sini said. “Whether that is because the demand is changing because we’re making an impact on the opioid epidemic, or drug dealers are thinking twice before selling heroin and fentanyl because of the use of manslaughter statutes and our present targeting of heroin dealers, it is way too early to say.”