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Rockland Drug Trafficking Bust Results In Nine Arrests

The Rockland residents arrested are awaiting arraignment in Manhattan federal court.
The Rockland residents arrested are awaiting arraignment in Manhattan federal court. Photo Credit: File

Nine members of a drug trafficking organization were charged Thursday with distributing a variety of narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and crack cocaine, in and around Rockland.

The indictment alleges that the use of heroin distributed by defendant and 49-year-old Haverstraw resident Robert "Facey" Diaz resulted in serious bodily injury to a victim on Dec. 15, 2016 in Queens, according to Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim, Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration James J. Hunt.

All but one of the defendants were arrested Wednesday night and Thursday. Three other Rockland residents, also from Haverstraw, were among the nine charged. The five others charged are from New York City.

The other Haverstraw residents nabbed and also awaiting formal arraignment in Manhattan federal court are: 52-year-old Rene Sanchez,  55-year-old Theresa "Terry" Keefe and 33-year-old Nicole "Nicki" Munderville.

"As alleged, the defendants conspired to sell deadly drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, even though some of them knew that users were overdosing on their drugs," Kim said. "The opioid epidemic, and in particular, overdoses on fentanyl, is on the rise in too many of our communities, including Rockland County. Together with our partners at the DEA and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, we are working to combat this deadly epidemic.”

Some members of the Rockland drug trafficking group were aware of the potency and danger of the narcotics they were distributing, authorities said.

For example, from December 2016 to May 2017, Diaz indicated to certain other members of the group that the narcotics he, Keefe, and Munderville were selling contained fentanyl, were particularly dangerous, and had caused adverse reactions in multiple customers, including at least one overdose that had required the administration of naloxone in the Dec. 15, 2016 incident, Kim said.

“Sadly, we're seeing high numbers of fentanyl and heroin-related overdoses in Rockland County," Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated. "Dealers selling heroin-laced fentanyl or replacing the heroin entirely with fentanyl are a major threat to our community.

"Oftentimes, users never know that the substance they purchased has been cut with this opioid, which is 50 times more powerful than regular heroin. Today’s arrests help to stem the flow of heroin and fentanyl into our neighborhoods. Along with our law enforcement partners, the Rockland County District Attorney's Office is committed to holding dealers accountable with the full force of the law.”

Each suspect is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. DDiaz also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for having distributed heroin resulting in serious bodily injury to a victim.

Kim thanked the DEA’s Westchester Tactical Diversion Squad, the Rockland County Drug Task Force, the Rockland County REACT Team, and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office for their work on the investigation. The DEA’s Westchester TDS comprises agents and officers of the DEA, Westchester County Police Department, Town of Orangetown Police Department, Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, Yonkers Police Department, New Windsor Police Department, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Health and Human Services.

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