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Twenty-five arrested in $1.5 million Brooklyn heroin-trafficking ring

Heroin was found hidden in cereal boxes

September 17, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
At a press conference on Thursday, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced that 25 defendants in a 368-count drug trafficking ring were arrested in Brooklyn this week. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced on Thursday the arrests of 25 people in a 368-charge indictment that involved a family-run heroin trafficking ring that netted $1.5 million last year. The operation was being run out of Williamsburg for at least the past two years.

“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 at a press conference on Thursday. “We must deal with this quiet drug plague by going after those who peddle this poison in our communities.”

Josie Tavera, 24, is accused of being the ringleader who operated out of his Driggs Avenue apartment, with the help of his mother, Haydee Cordero, who supposedly helped to launder money, and sister, Sheila Taveras, who bagged and transported the heroin. Tavera allegedly supplied his brother, Jose Taveras, and two cousins, Gustavo Taveras and Christian Rodriguez, with heroin that was sold throughout Brooklyn.

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“We charge that the defendant, Josie Tavera, sold heroin to other distributors,” Thompson said Thursday. “We also allege that this heroin distribution ring was truly a family-run business because we have also charged his mother, his sister, his brother and two cousins who played key roles in the drug conspiracy.”

Of the 25 defendants, one was a Manhattan court employee and another was an aspiring drug counselor.

“Two other defendants named Jason Collazo and Michael Mineo, both residents of Staten Island, are supposed to be a part of the solution, but instead allegedly distributed heroin on Staten Island, which had a burgeoning heroin problem,” Thompson said.

Thompson also said that Collazo, 36, worked in the Midtown Community Court as a community service supervisor, and said that he allegedly used the phone at the courthouse to coordinate heroin sales.

Thompson called Mineo, 37, an “aspiring drug counselor” who got drugs from Collazo and sold them on Staten Island. During the investigation, Thompson said, Collazo applied to work at the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

“Just think of the damage that he could have caused by selling heroin to the recovering drug addicts that he was supposed to help,” Thompson said of Collazo.

Thompson said that the investigation started in 2014 after a confidential informant notified his office of the activity in the Driggs Avenue apartment. They used wiretaps, video and physical surveillance to take down those involved.

The drug ring allegedly sold heroin under the street names “Knockout,” “Killing Time” and “Scorpion,” according to officials. Thompson played a portion of the wiretap where dealers were laughing and bragging that their heroin had caused swollen lips and eyes in its users.

“I don’t think they’re laughing now,” Thompson said.

All of the defendants except for one were arrested on Wednesday with the final one expected to turn himself in Thursday, according to officials. They were arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Mullen.

The defendants are being charged with second-degree conspiracy, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years. Other charges include criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance and money laundering.

“The epidemic of heroin use continues to destroy the lives of countless individuals and their families,” said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in a statement. “As alleged, the persons responsible for this heroin trafficking ring operated a network comprised of family and associates to distribute this deadly drug.”

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