Police Bust Williamsburg Heroin Ring That Hid Drugs In Cereal Boxes

Jose Tavera, accused of selling heroin hidden in Apple Jacks boxes. Photo: John M. Mantel

An aspiring drug counselor and a Midtown Community Court employee were among the 25 people arrested Thursday as part of a $1.5 million-per-year family-run heroin ring run out of a South Williamsburg apartment.

The operation fueled a growing heroin epidemic in New York City, selling up to 25,000 $10 bags of heroin a month–often hiding stashes in boxes of Apple Jacks cereal–in neighborhoods like Prospect Heights, Astoria, and Ridgewood, and on Staten Island, which is especially plagued by heroin.

The ringleader, 25-year-old Josie “Fresh” Tavera, was aided by his brother, sister, cousins and mother in running the operation out of his apartment on 778 Driggs Ave, according to the DA’s office.  For at least two years, they supplied local dealers with various brands of heroin “Knockout,” “Takeover,” “Power Hour,” “Killing Time,” “Pure,” “Gucci,” and “Scorpion.”

"Operation South Side"

At a press conference, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson played a clip of a wiretap in which dealers laugh about “the scorpion’s bite” giving one user “head to toe” hives and a swollen face. “I couldn’t stop laughing at him, bro,” Michael Mineo, 37, who was accused of dealing in Staten Island and had a job application in to become a drug counselor, said to Jason Collazo, 36, an alleged distributor for the group, according to the recording.

“It shows you the reckless disregard that they had for the people they were peddling the poison to,” Thompson said. “I don’t think they’re laughing now.” The 368-charge indictment includes conspiracy, sale and possession of a controlled substance and money laundering.

“There’s a growing heroin epidemic in New York and other parts of the country that’s taking the lives of many of our young people hooked on this deadly and highly-addictive drug,”  Thompson said. “We must deal with this quiet drug plague by going after those who peddle this poison in our communities.”

“The epidemic of heroin use continues to destroy the lives of countless individuals and their families,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “As alleged, the persons responsible for this heroin trafficking ring operated a network comprised of family and associates to distribute this deadly drug. But thanks to the investigators of the Brooklyn North Gang Squad and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, this criminal operation has been dismantled.”

[via The New York Times]

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