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The 12 men and women charged by District Attorney Richard Brown with operating a small ring that sold heroin to well-to-do customers in Suffolk and Nassau counties are now working their way through the New York state court system.
The DA announced the bust at a Friday news conference complete with a table full of confiscated drugs and guns.
Queens Boulevard is already known as the “Boulevard of Death,” but the DA’s office and the NYPD charged 12 individuals with selling hard drugs to hundreds of Long Islanders who used the “Heroin Highway” — the Long Island Expressway — to get their fix in the borough.
“The main defendants are accused of operating as a tightly knit ring that catered almost exclusively to drug buyers from the eastern end of Long Island, virtually turning the Long Island Expressway into the ‘Heroin Highway,’” Brown said at his office in Kew Gardens.
The users in tony towns like Kings Park and Smithtown would drive an hour into the Ridgewood area to buy heroin at nearly half of what they would pay on Long Island.
A sleeve of heroin containing 100 individual packets could run from $1,000 or $1,500 on the island, but the young suburbanites would meet in hotels, diners, fast food restaurants or even 99-cent stores in Queens to get the same product for $400 to $800.
“This is a substantial savings,” said Inspector Michael Bryan, commanding officer of the Narcotics Bureau of Queens. “That was the draw to come into Queens to purchase these drugs.”
The Heroin Highway led 121 men and women straight into the hands of police, who charged them with drug possession, but the 12 alleged drug dealers face more serious charges that could land them behind bars for significant time.
The alleged ringleader, Jermel Broadhurst, 30, of 31-31 29th St. in Astoria, was slapped with a slew of charges, including operating as a major trafficker. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
Broadhurst would arrange the transactions between the buyers and members of his group, the DA said.
Other Queens residents who were collared by the NYPD included Marcos Feliciano, 47, of 169 Beach 60th St. in Far Rockaway, and Chelene Nelson, 24, of 31-31 29th St. in Astoria.
NYPD officers posed as buyers to collar several of the suspects.
In one case, Broadhurst arranged for Kenneth Kirkland, 25, of Brooklyn, to sell $200 worth of heroin to an undercover officer at a Best Western Hotel, at 33-17 Greenpoint Ave. in Long Island City, the DA said.
Another $600 transaction went down at a Subway restaurant, at 51-22 Northern Blvd. in Woodside, the DA said.
On Friday morning, the DA and NYPD officers stood in front of a table filled with confiscated evidence. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement collected 8,000 glassine envelopes of heroin, more than 5 kilograms of heroin, 2.7 kilograms of cocaine, five pistols, two shotguns and an AK-47 assault rifle, which was loaded when they took it off a suspect’s person.
Brown said the use of heroin is on the rise and suburban youngsters are combining it with prescription narcotics like Oxycodone to get high.
“We risk losing a generation of young people,” Brown said.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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