Nearly two dozen people were arrested as part of a complex sting called Operation Smack Down. Police officers in New York and New Jersey coordinated to arrest 23 people after a six-month investigation prompted by an overdose death. Arraignments for seven individuals were set for July 12 in Manhattan, with the rest being unannounced at this time. The support of criminal defense representation in these proceedings will be of the utmost importance to the accused individuals fighting these charges.
According to the arrest record, Operation Smack Down was launched following the death of a 24-year-old woman last year in Staten Island. She is believed to have overdosed from a combination of fenatyl, heroin and cocaine. Undercover officers said they purchased some $20,000 in drugs over the course of six months from the man suspected of selling to the victim. From there, police tracked down individuals believed to be his suppliers.
Seven men were arrested in total in this phase of the operation. A further 16 people were arrested in a separate investigation in Suffolk County. Police say the alleged heroin ring took in an estimated $1.5 million per year through delivering drugs to homes in Suffolk. Two men involved in this secondary ring face up to life in prison if convicted.
Drug busts can be notoriously rife with administrative and legal quandaries, depending on the scope of the investigation. New York police are duty-bound to adhere strictly to best practices in apprehending suspects and gathering evidence in these cases. If criminal defense determines they failed to do so in any way, it could warrant further investigation. In some cases, charges can be reduced or even dropped if police violated the rights of accused individuals or mishandled evidence.
Source: NBC New York, “23 Arrested in Drug Trafficking Schemes in New York and New Jersey“, Greg Cergol, July 12, 2017