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US Attorney: 20 Indicted in Heroin Sweep

Woman accused of selling heroin in parking lot of Massapequa restaurant.

Law enforcement officials say they've broken up a major heroin ring that has operated throughout Long Island, arresting 20 members Tuesday.

Among those busted were a woman who allegedly sold the drug in the parking lot of  restaurant in Massapequa and a retired Suffolk County Marine Bureau officer, according to Loretta Lynch, the United States Attorney from the Eastern District of New York.

One of the defendants, Leonardo Lopez, is married to a New York City police  officer, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

The members of the ring were arrested in a sweep early Tuesday morning, prosecutors said.

The group, known as the Perez organization, was allegedly led by 26-year-old Jose Perez, also known as "Jay" Ule," and "Fat Boy."

Their leadership was located in the Woodhaven section of Queens, but they had a distribution network throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties, prosecutors said. They also used a storage facility in Brooklyn.

The 20 defendants allegedly distributed more than 20 kilograms of heroin with a street value of at least $2.75 million to drug dealers in Queens and on Long Island over the past nine months.

Among those arrested was Dana Sollecito, 23, who allegedly sold the drug in the parking lot of the Corner Galley.

Gerry Stanbrough, who is a co-owner of the Merrick Road eatery, insisted he had no idea anything was going on. "I haven't talked to anyone," he said. "I haven't talked to the FBI, the U.S. attorney or police. I only heard about this when the news media came at noon."

Stanbrough said media reports that Sollecito was related to the restaurant's owners are not true, saying she's the daughter of a former owner who has passed away.

But she has been an employee at the Corner Galley for several months, according to Stanbrough.

"I'm shocked, I can't believe it, it's inconceivable to me that his could happen. She's a nice kid, she really is," he said.

The restaurant owner said Sollecito will likely be fired, once she gets out of jail.

Retired Suffolk Marine Bureau officer Roland Stern,  68, and his daughter Corey, 37 were also arrested in the sweep, as were Tina Catrini, 29, and her husband Matthew, 24. Kathryn Papas, 21, a college student was also busted.

The arrests came after a nine month investigation in which more than 5,400 individual doses of heroin were recovered. Searches excuted in Queens, Brooklyn and Roosevelt resulted in the seizure of more than $30,000 worth of heroin and thousands of dollars in cash, prosecutors said. 

The investigation called "Operation County Connection" was handled by the FBI, the Nassau  Police Department and the NYPD with assistance from Suffolk Police and the US Marshals service in the Eastern District of New York.

The defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Maryann M. April 26, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Mary . I'm glad they were caught. So many people have drug problems because of people like them and families are torn apart, let them rot in prison. Thats where they belong.
Kristen Ferrari April 26, 2012 at 02:17 PM
What we all need to realize is that jail time for low level or even high level drug dealers and offenders isn't doing much to stop the drug problem. People are still getting high and addicted despite the last big drug bust. Please don't mistake this as an argument not to punish offenders. I'm just pointing out that drugs are still a problem and will be a problem after the next bust and the next bust after that. What are we doing to combat addiction? Jail time and stricter laws are not solving the problem.
MHS fat pat the janitor October 02, 2012 at 07:45 PM
the high school has security gaurds inside and outside there is a card swipe everysingle door in the building is locked at all times and there is 785 survalence camras threw out the hole school building on 24 hours also there is police who come in during the night and day making sure its safe and during the night or in between classes they have the k9 unit come sniffing all the lockers. So dont blame the high school!. this comment also gos for diane so we are a very SAFE DRUG,ALCOHOL,VIOLENCE FREE ENVIOREMENT
Ugh December 27, 2012 at 05:57 AM
Anyone know what the status of this case is??
Steve December 28, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Please stop being your first name and making false accusations. Are you judge and jury. I think not...

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