More than two dozen people are expected to be charged Wednesday as authorities dismantle a Oxycodone and heroin trafficking ring that distributed drugs in public places including a large Rockland County mall, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Twenty-nine people were named in federal and state indictments charging them with conspiracy and drug charges for a narcotics ring that operated out of the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, the Mount Ivy Trailer Park in Pomona and various motels around Rockland County between early 2014 and March, law enforcement officials and a federal indictment say.
"Dealers in this operation are alleged to have sunk to a new low, selling prescription drugs and heroin at popular locations where parents drop off their kids to see a movie, attend a birthday party or spend time ice skating with friends," Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said at a news conference Wednesday.
The group sold more than 50,000 Oxycodone tablets valued at more than $1 million over the course of the year, most of which were obtained through forged and fraudulent prescriptions, according to the indictment.
One defendant allegedly used his home computer to fill out blank New York State prescriptions with fraudulent patient and doctor information, officials say. Lower-level "runners" would then go to pharmacies across the state to fill the prescriptions.
They also obtained and sold significant quantities of heroin from a distributor in the Bronx, according to officials.
Some of the defendants allegedly celebrated their drug trafficking on social media sites Instagram and Twitter, with one writing on the latter: "Shout out my TMC [Too Much Cash] bros we taking over the streets."
Teams of federal, state and local investigators began making arrests early Wednesday morning.
Seventeen people, including the operation's alleged ringleader, are being charged with federal crimes. The other 12 suspects face state charges.
Neighbors in the Pomona community where some of the drug operations allegedly took place know some of the suspects arrested Wednesday, and were stunned to hear of their arrests.
"It's just a huge surprise to me," said Joanne Brown. "They're just fun-loving guys, always fun to be around. This is just sad."
Investigators with the DEA, NYPD, Westchester County Police and the Town of Orangetown Police conducted the investigation, law enforcement officials say.