WHITE PLAINS – Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Thomas Zugibe, the Rockland County District Attorney, and James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration announced the unsealing of an indictment charging nine defendants with participating in a drug trafficking organization that distributed a variety of narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and crack cocaine, in and around Rockland County, and obtained those narcotics for resale from the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York.
The indictment alleges the use of heroin distributed by defendant Robert Diaz resulted in serious bodily injury to a particular victim on or about December 15, 2016, in Queens, New York.
All but one of the defendants was arrested Thursday night and Friday. Rene Sanchez, Pablo Perez, Christian Cardenas, David Almonte, and Ronald Bolanos were presented in federal court in Manhattan before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein Thursday afternoon. Robert Diaz, Theresa Keefe, and Nicole Munderville was presented before Judge Gorenstein on Friday. Rolando Paulino remains at large.
Each defendant 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. Diaz also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for having distributed heroin resulting in serious bodily injury to a victim.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated, “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. 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.”
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated, “Sadly, we’re seeing high numbers of fentanyl and heroin related overdoses in Rockland County. Dealers selling heroin-laced fentanyl or replacing the heroin entirely with fentanyl are a major threat to our community. Often times, 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.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, “The after effects of this Rockland County drug crew added casualties to the number of opioid overdoses nationwide, as they callously discussed doing the ‘fentanyl dance.’ In addition to dismantling drug trafficking organizations, law enforcement and our community partners are collaborating to alert the public on the dangers of drug dealers pushing heroin and fentanyl into our neighborhoods.”
According to the Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
Robert Diaz, Rene Sanchez, Pablo Perez, Christian Cardenas, David Almonte, Ronald Bolanos, Rolando Paulino, Theresa Keefe, and Nicole Munderville, conspired to distribute significant amounts of narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and fentanyl, in and around Rockland County, New York, from 2012 to May 2017 as members of a drug trafficking organization (the “Rockland DTO”). Cardenas, Almonte, Perez, Paulino, and Bolanos acted as suppliers for the Rockland DTO, while Diaz, Sanchez, Keefe, and Munderville distributed and assisted in distributing the narcotics to customers in and around Rockland County. The Rockland DTO distributed narcotics on a daily basis, and obtained narcotics for resale from the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
Some members of the Rockland DTO were aware of the potency and danger of the narcotics they were distributing. For example, from December 2016 to May 2017, DIAZ indicated to certain other members of the Rockland DTO that the narcotics he, Keefe, and Munderville were selling, and that Cardenas was supplying, 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 to Victim-1 on or about December 15, 2016. Also, as described in the Indictment, on January 5, 2017, Diaz told Cardenas that “three people fell out” from the drugs Diaz had provided. Diaz subsequently informed Keefe and Munderville that the drugs they were selling, thought by customers to be heroin, actually contained fentanyl. In addition, on March 20, 2017, Diaz, in a conversation with Perez, laughed as he discussed doing the “fentanyl dance,” telling Perez that he had a “new connect” for “straight up fentanyl” and that customers “love it.”