A four-month-long undercover investigation launched in response to complaints from residents throughout Rockland County about illegal drug sales in downtown areas and busy shopping malls has led to charges against 28 people throughout the county.
Of those charged, Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said 24 have previous criminal records on ranging from allegations of petty theft to attempted murder and sex crimes.
Zugibe said the investigation targeted illicit drug sales that were taking place in downtown Nyack, Haverstraw and Suffern, as well as shopping areas including Palisades Center mall in West Nyack and the Thruway Plaza strip mall on Route 59 in Nanuet.
The investigation, Zugibe said, also led to a raid on a so-called "pill mill" in Clarkstown, with police seizing nearly 500 pills, including oxycodone, suboxone, ketamine and marijuana – worth about $14,000 — at a New City home.
“These long-term drug investigation arrests have been a collaborative and coordinated response to open-air drug dealing complaints from our residents," said Rockland County Drug Task Force Director Christopher Goldrick said. "The Drug Task Force, along with the Street Crime Units, Detective Bureaus and Uniform Patrol Officers will continue to dismantle open-air drug dealers and gang members that fuel all other crimes that deteriorate our communities."
Goldrick said the investigation continues into the reach and scope of illicit drug trafficking in Rockland County and further arrests will be made.
Those charged in the investigation - who range in age from 24 to 53 - are accused of selling crack and powdered cocaine, heroin, ketamine, oxycodone, Ecstasy, Percocet, marijuana and other controlled substances to undercover police officers on more than 75 occasions in the towns of Haverstraw, Clarkstown, Orangetown and Ramapo.
“This investigation will take us a long way to improving the quality of life for the residents of our community and in reducing drug-related violence and other criminal activity," Zugibe said. "These arrests make Rockland County safer by putting drug dealers in jail.”
The investigation used surveillance and search warrants, coupled with court-authorized electronic surveillance, targeting areas known for drug selling, Zugibe said. In addition to the arrests, raids conducted in the investigation recovered various amounts of prescription pills, cocaine, heroin and drug paraphernalia.
Zugibe noted that most of those charged were already known to police for previous criminal investiagtions. Twenty-four of the 28 people charged have prior criminal histories for crimes related to burglary, robbery, attempted murder, assault, criminal sale and criminal possession of controlled substances, resisting arrest, coercion, grand larceny, petit larceny and child sex crimes.
Two key figures were cited in the drug investigaiton.
Wilfredo Torres, 49, of 20 Main St., Garnerville, was idetified by investigators as a significant cocaine dealer in the Town of Haverstraw. His criminal record includes prior arrests for criminal sale and criminal possession of controlled substances, grand larceny, robbery, burglary, conspiracy and resisting arrest, Zugibe said.
In New City, Zugibe said Andrew Flores, 24, of 149 West Clarkstown Road, was charged in connection with the "pill mill."