BRIDGET G. BRENNAN, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, BRIAN R. CROWELL, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division (DEA) and New York City Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY announced today the indictment and arrest of 11 members of a drug ring that trafficked in prescription painkillers and cocaine in Brooklyn and Staten Island.
A nine-month wiretap investigation revealed three overlapping drug trafficking conspiracies in which each of the defendants sold cocaine, the narcotic painkiller oxycodone, or both. Four firearms were seized during court authorized searches of the homes of two suppliers, including two semi-automatic pistols and a revolver from a home in Staten Island in April 2013 and an AK-47 style assault rifle from an apartment in Brooklyn in March 2013.
The investigation was spearheaded by the DEA New York Division's Group D-35, comprised of agents and officers from the DEA and the Amtrak Police. The NYPD's Brooklyn South Narcotics Division, the 60th Precinct Field Intelligence Unit and the Citywide Anti-Gang Enforcement Unit participated in the investigation.
The arrests began yesterday morning and continued this afternoon. Three of the 11 defendants were already in custody in connection with this investigation.
The investigation began with two street-level drug traffickers, SIMON BERMAN and ROMAN VITKIN, who sold oxycodone and cocaine in the vicinity of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and elsewhere. Court authorized wiretaps, undercover drug purchases and other investigative techniques enabled agents to identify three intersecting conspiracies and work their way up to successively higher levels on the supply chain.
In the first conspiracy detailed in the indictment, BERMAN received oxycodone from two suppliers, BELLA ZELENAYA and RONALD PELTS. The investigation revealed that ZELENAYA illegally received prescriptions for oxycodone from a corrupt Sheepshead Bay physician with whom she was acquainted. BERMAN, VITKIN, ZELENAYA and PELTS used cryptic language in communicating with each other in phone conversations and text messages.
The second conspiracy involved BERMAN and VITKIN tapping another set of suppliers to obtain cocaine. BERMAN bought cocaine from defendants FELIKIS MAZOR and ANNA GLEYZERMAN, a couple living in Sheepshead Bay. MAZOR in turn procured cocaine from PAUL SANTIAGO, a Staten Island resident. SANTIAGO obtained cocaine from IRVING BARRERO. ALINA SOROKA also sold cocaine as part of this conspiracy. The defendants used cryptic language in communicating with each other in phone conversations and text messages.
For the third conspiracy, BERMAN obtained cocaine from supplier STEVEN JIMENEZ. Defendant CESAR NARANJO-VELASQUEZ, an associate of JIMENEZ and a New Jersey resident, also sold cocaine as part of this conspiracy.
Undercover sales and bribe attempt
BERMAN is also charged with two sales of cocaine to an undercover DEA agent, totaling 170 grams (6 oz.) for a total of $7,080. On Feb. 15, 2013, BERMAN and the undercover agent met at a Day's Inn at 437 39th St. in Brooklyn, where BERMAN attempted to purchase 10,000 pills of oxycodone from the undercover, with the intention of reselling the drugs. BERMAN was arrested during this transaction. Later that day, he attempted to bribe the undercover agent by offering to pay $20,000 in cash. He faces two counts of Bribery, in addition drug and conspiracy charges.
Following BERMAN's arrest on Feb. 15, 2013, a court authorized search of his home at 2955 Shell Rd., Apt. 3P yielded 574 pills of oxycodone and approximately 17 grams of cocaine (more than 1/2 oz.). Authorities seized approximately $19,000 that BERMAN had stashed with relatives and in two safe deposit boxes.
Search Warrants: Firearms
On March 20, 2013, agents conducted a court authorized search of MAZOR's home at 2153 E. 29th St. MAZOR and GLEYZERMAN were inside the residence with a two-year-old child. Inside the home, agents found a semi-automatic assault rifle, over 140 grams of cocaine (5 oz.), nearly a pound of marijuana and nearly $6,400 in cash. Additionally, 40 pills of oxycodone were recovered from GLEYZERMAN's car. Both face charges of Endangering a Child and Unlawful Dealing with a Child, in addition to drug possession charges. MAZOR faces weapons possession charges related to the rifle.
The following month, on April 9, 2013, SANTIAGO was arrested after police stopped his car in a Toys "R" US parking lot at 2875 Flatbush Ave. and seized 250 grams of cocaine (half a pound). Agents conducted a court authorized search of SANTIAGO's residence at 28 Mapleton Ave. on Staten Island and seized three firearms, including a .357 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a .38 caliber revolver, as well as drug paraphernalia.
A search of a stash house associated with BARRERO at 1397 Stanley Avenue in Brooklyn yesterday yielded over half a kilogram (more than a pound) of cocaine, as well as quantities of heroin and paraphernalia, including a kilo press and a money-counter.
ZELENAYA, VITKIN, ZGLEYZERMAN and SOROKA were arraigned yesterday and this morning before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melissa C. Jackson in Part 23, 100 Centre Street, where they pleaded not guilty and were held on bail. The remaining defendants are expected to be arraigned today.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor BRIDGET G. BRENNAN thanked the DEA New York Division, the New York City Police Department, the Special Narcotics Prescription Drug Investigation Unit and Investigators Unit, the Kings County District Attorney's Office, the Richmond County District Attorney's Office, the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the New Jersey Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey State Police and the New York State Police.
"These intersecting criminal organizations bought and sold addictive pain pills as freely as they dealt cocaine. The four firearms seized during this investigation demonstrate the potential for violence that is always present in the drug trade," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor BRIDGET G. BRENNAN. "I thank our partners in the Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Police Department for their tenacity in working from the street level dealers to the suppliers to bring down all of these organizations with today’s arrests."
DEA Special Agent in Charge BRIAN R. CROWELL stated, DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated, "This poly drug trafficking confederation operated like a variety store, selling any type of illicit drug they could get their hands on. The joint task force infiltrated their ranks in order to put them out of business. Law enforcement identified those who were responsible for distribution on the streets of Brooklyn as well as their suppliers throughout New York City. Collaboration between the NYPD, DEA and the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor led to the arrests of 11 individuals responsible for spreading crime and drugs throughout our city."
Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY said, “Drug traffickers who tried to maximize their profit potential by selling prescription drugs with illicit narcotics failed to recognize the investigative power of the NYPD's Brooklyn South Narcotics, 60th Precinct field intelligence and gang enforcement officers who disrupted the subjects' one-stop shops and confiscated illegal guns including assault weapons in the process. Once again, the NYPD has joined with the skilled investigators in Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Bridget Brennan's office to fight drug dealing and related violence. I commend them on this case.”
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.Download Press Release (pdf)
Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office
DEA, New York Division
Paul J. Browne
New York City Police Department