Ted Waddell | Democrat
DISTRICT ATTORNEY STEPHEN Lungen points out the alleged drug dealers and distributors nabbed by “Operation Intercept” during Friday’s press conference at his office. Others yet to be arrested had their faces covered. At right, a close up of Adam Bloom, 25, from the board. Bloom was one of the main targets of the operation and has been called “a major distributor of cocaine and marijuana in Sullivan County” by the authorities.
Major drug network brought down
By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO May 13, 2008 “Snow” isn’t in the forecast for the county, at least for a while.
On Friday, May 9, Sullivan County District Attorney Stephen F. Lungen convened a press conference to announce the arrest of several major dealers and supplies of cocaine and a significant portion of their distribution network in the county.
“The investigative part of Operation Intercept has been brought to a highly successful conclusion… [and] the prosecution part of Operation Intercept now begins with these arrests,” said Lungen.
The massive investigation started out with the local district attorney’s office and the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) working closely to crush the local cocaine distribution network, and the extent of the trafficking became known to authorities, was expanded to include the NYSP’s Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) and Mid-Hudson Drug Enforcement Task Force (MHDETF), Monticello Police Department, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). NYC’s Drug Enforcement Task Force, and the Orange County DA’s Office.
The investigation covered the counties of Sullivan and Orange and reached into the NYC metropolitan area to nail a couple of major suppliers, identified and subsequently arrested by authorities as David Velazquez, 31, of Orange County and Jerry Hernandez, 32, of Queens, NYC.
According to Lungen, the main target in his sights over the past three years was Adam D. Bloom, 25, of Monticello, an alleged big-time player in the local cocaine trade, described as “on the police radar as a major distributor of cocaine and marijuana within Sullivan County.”
Last week, authorities arrested 20 individuals and initially charged them with conspiracy in the second degree: Adam Bloom, 25; David Velazquez, 31; Jerry Hernandez, 32; Linda Helfman, 51; Eisuke Kusumi, 32; Monica Alonso, 20; Marlon Anderson, 19; Anthony Bonichi, 29; Ian Gold, 24; Mat Helfman, 22; Shawn King, 18; Daniel Lorino, 20; Alex Melendez, 26; Steve Nikolados, 25, Brian Salzman, 27; Gamalie Velazquez, 27; Desmond Williams, 31; Shawn York, 34; Kevin Zeininger, 29; and Jessica Bullock, 22.
Charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance: Terrance Hulse, 25; Starlisha Jones, 25; and Jesse Crawford, 29.
Over the weekend two more were arrested and charged with conspiracy in the second degree: Jasper Martin and Maximiliano Villalobos. Except for Velazquez and Hernandez, all the arrested were locals, but Lungen declined to specify their hometowns.
Participating in the press conference: Sullivan County DA Lungen; Timothy Foley, DEA Supervisory Special Agent; Lt. Brian Shortall, NYSP BCI; Lt. Frank Kealty, NYSP CNET; and Doug Solomon, Chief of the Monticello Police Department.
“The success of this operation is the direct result of the continued cooperation between state, federal and local police agencies,” said Lt. Shortall.
Lungen said that as the investigation intensified over the past 17 months, the purpose was not to arrest street dealers and users, but to take down the suppliers, distributors and transporters of cocaine, known on the street by scores of names such as snow, lady caine, white lady, star-spangled powder and white horse.
“In the end, utilizing sophisticated law enforcement techniques and technologies, we were not only able to infiltrate the distribution network in Sullivan County which trafficked and distributed in several communities… [but] were able to identify and apprehend suppliers of high quality cocaine in New York City and Orange County,” added Lungen.
“It was one of those rare situations where not only the sellers but the upper level suppliers were arrested,” he said, adding that cocaine is the primary cause of street violence, and particularly in the Village of Monticello has been directly linked to past incidents of gang-related shootings.
According to the DA’s office, Bloom’s alleged network distributed approximately 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of cocaine a week, with a total street value of about $1.5 million annually.
As “snow” trickles down the cocaine food chain, it gets cut repeatedly, thus maximized the profits in the illegal drug trade.
Lungen credited the efforts of police officers with “putting their own lives at risk to make your communities safe.”
Lt. Kealty noted that the value of property seized during the arrests to date is approximately $400,000 including the street value of the drugs, about $100,000 cash and 12 vehicles ranging from a Cadillac Escalade to a “junk” Toyota.
Bloom was spotted Thursday at a Monticello dentist’s office by an off-duty police officer and was arrested later in the afternoon.
“This is the biggest narcotics investigation that I have seen take place,” said Chief Solomon, confirming that Bloom’s associates were involved with several shootings at the Evergreen Housing Complex last year.
“These arrests are going to go a long way in reducing crime in the village,” added Chief Solomon of last week’s drug arrests.