Operation High-Rise nets 40 arrests
Press Release edited from Rockland DA’s Office
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe announced at a press conference on Monday the arrest of 22 individuals and the filing of criminal charges against 18 others on a variety of drug-related charges as part of a large scale undercover narcotics investigation in towns and villages throughout Rockland County. “The is a big day for law enforcement,” Zugibe said, touting the cooperation of over a dozen different law departments.
The defendants – who range in age from 18 to 56 – were targeted during pre-dawn raids early today and are charged with selling powdered and crack cocaine, heroin and highly addictive prescription pharmaceuticals to undercover police officers on dozens of occasions since last November.
Among those arrested over the course of the probe were eight purported Bloods street gang members based in Rockland County.
“Drug dealing threatens the safety of our residents and pushes families and businesses out of our communities,” said Zugibe. “My Office is committed to improving the quality of life for all residents of Rockland County, and will continue to pursue investigations leading to these types of serious felony cases.”
The 10-month investigation, code-named Operation High-Rise, began in November, 2010 when detectives assigned to the Rockland County Drug Task Force received intelligence from the Town of Orangetown Police Department about drug dealing operations in the Village of Nyack. In response, the Drug Task Force and several local police agencies dispatched numerous undercover officers to purchase powdered and crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, percocet and oxycodone.
During the course of the investigation, undercover officers purchased narcotics on more than one-hundred separate occasions during open-air transactions. Some of the locations included Main Street in Nanuet, Main Street in Pearl River, the intersection of Midland and Depew Avenues in Nyack, the Spring Valley Marketplace, the parking lot of the Pathmark supermarket in Nanuet, the parking lot of the McDonalds in West Haverstraw and the parking area of the Palisades Center mall in West Nyack.
In addition to the arrests, officers executed four court-authorized search warrants and recovered various amounts of cocaine, prescription pills and drug paraphernalia. Among those arrested was Tyrone Gomez (DOB 03/21/74) of 321 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey, a major source of illegal narcotics for Rockland County. It is alleged that Gomez sold cocaine to undercover officers on several separate occasions in 2011.
Most of the forty defendants charged in the 120-count indictment face arraignment in Rockland County Court in New City. Eleven of the defendants have been on parole at one time or another, including four whom are currently incarcerated at the Rockland County jail. According to Zugibe, four of the defendants are being sought by U.S. Marshals in other states; two of the defendants are currently in rehab.
The defendants are variously charged with numerous counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, punishable by up to nine years in prison, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Conspiracy.
Operation High-Rise is the latest in a series of large-scale, undercover investigations into open-air drug dealing in Rockland County. High-Rise is the third coordinated sweep of illicit narcotics sales in 2011, following Operation Deadliest Ghost in the Village of Nyack in January and Operation High-Tech in the Town of Haverstraw in April. All three operations have led to the arrest of 94 individuals.
Drug Task Force Director Christopher Goldrick said, “Today’s crackdown is part of an ongoing campaign to stop the scourge of drug-dealing and drug-based violence in Rockland County. The arrests underscore District Attorney Zugibe’s commitment to improve the quality of life for all residents in Rockland.”
Goldrick and Zugibe said the supply of illicit drugs is coming from the Bronx, while prescription drugs they did not give a clear answer on. Any leads on busting the major supplier of the drugs are forwarded to federal authorities, Zugibe said. He did not indicate whether there was any sign that the continuing drug raids have decreased the flow of drugs in Rockland County. Goldrick said, currently the police are observing a “prescription drug epidemic.”
The investigation was conducted by detectives assigned to the Rockland County Drug Task Force, the Rockland County Intelligence Center, the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, the Town of Orangetown Police Department Detective Bureau, the Town of Clarkstown Police Department Street Crime Unit, the Town of Haverstraw Police Department Street Crime Unit, the Village of Suffern Police Department Detective Bureau, the Town of Ramapo Police Department Detective Bureau, the New York State Police C-NET Unit, the New York State Drug Enforcement Task Force Group T-31, the United States Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Drug/Gang Unit and the Rockland County R.E.A.C.T. Team.
The investigation continues into the reach and scope of the illicit operation and further arrests are possible.