“Operation Yellow Brick Road” Nabs 16 In Major Drug Bust
Town of Newburgh – In a massive drug bust, Local and State Police and FBI officials rounded up 16 individuals enngaged in what Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called ” a Violent Crime Ring” and charged them with 172 counts of Conspiring to Purchase and Sell Heroin and Cocaine in Newburgh, Orange County, and Throughout NY State.” The investigation, Schneiderman said “also Recovered Guns and Cash; Several Defendants Alleged to Be Members of the 600 Gang, Which Has Plagued Streets of Newburgh.” Describing the sting, the report continued:
The operation was nicknamed Yellow Brick Road because of the heroin glassine “Bricks” and one of the gang leader’s who became known as “Toe-Toe” (after the Yellow Brick Road dog “Toto”. Other gang members tried to keep under the radar with nicknames like “Meech”, “Chop”, “Fredo” and “Cola”. The bust caught one member trying to flush evidence.
Over the course of the ten months-long investigation, which was led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), in partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), City of Newburgh Police Department (CNPD), Orange County Drug Task Force (OCDTF), Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), authorities recovered:
• Bulk heroin, and hundreds of doses of heroin in individual glassines, some marked with brand names such as “Focus,” “Shine,” and “X-men”
• Bulk cocaine used to make thousands of individual doses for resale
• 1 kilo of methamphetamine
• 40 pounds of marijuana
• 3 handguns
• 1 sawed-off shotgun
• 1 shotgun
• At least $36,000 in cash
The Attorney General’s investigation included hundreds of hours of physical surveillance and wiretapping, hidden cameras, GPS devices, undercover agents, and cooperating witnesses. During the course of the wiretapping, conspirators frequently utilized coded and cryptic terminology in an alleged attempt to disguise their illicit narcotics trafficking, such as referring to ten glassine envelopes of heroin as a “bundle”, and fifty glassines of heroin as a “brick.” In addition, the members often allegedly discussed the quality of heroin that they purchased from their suppliers and would often comment on the “tan” or “yellow” appearance of higher-quality heroin. During the course of the investigation, electronic surveillance revealed that these 16 defendants allegedly acquired large amounts of narcotics from New York City and Paterson, New Jersey in order to sell them in Newburgh and Orange County, and throughout New York.
As referenced at bail hearings, several of the defendants named in today’s indictment are alleged to be members of the 600 Gang, a violent street gang that has plagued the streets of Newburgh for the past several years. As alleged, several members of the criminal network focused their operation on the purchase and resale of cocaine, while others primarily purchased and resold heroin. Once they obtained the cocaine, they would adulterate the cocaine with cutting agents such as baking soda to double their profits, or they would “cook” the powder cocaine into crack-cocaine; In addition to selling narcotics, several of the 600 Gang members allegedly purchased, sold, and possessed illegal firearms used for protection and enforcement of their narcotics operation. During the course of the investigation, three handguns, one sawed-off shotgun, and one shotgun were recovered. As a result, Kevin Maldonado and Kenny Maldonado-Irizarry face additional charges in the indictment for Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and other related offenses.
Each defendant, if convicted, now faces up to 25 years in prison.
(Photos by Bob McCormick)