Authorities in Westchester County launched a series of raids Tuesday as part of a yearlong campaign targeting heroin distributors.
Twenty of the suspects were arrested in coordinated, daybreak raids, CBS2’s Lou Young reported. Overall, the operation has netted 125 suspects.
Tuesday’s raids targeted suspects in Yorktown, Cortlandt and Peekskill who allegedly fed a network of heroin users in quiet towns such as Bedford, Mount Kisco, Croton-on-Hudson and Ossining.
A task force involving local police, county police and the FBI was formed in early 2014 after a surge in heroin use and 85 overdose deaths in Westchester in 2012 and 2013.
“Illegal, damaging drugs such as heroin, crack and cocaine continue to be scourges of many communities north of New York City,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “We and our federal and local law enforcement partners are determined to prevent drug organizations from taking root in our communities, as evidenced by today’s charges and arrests.”
Heroin had gotten so cheap, potent and plentiful that many people were experimenting with it and getting caught in its web.
“I was one of those parents who thought it couldn’t happen to us,” said Jeffrey Veatch, whose son, Justin, died of a heroin overdose in 2008, his senior year at Yorktown High School.
“It’s a tragedy where families are destroyed,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said. “Children, their lives are ruined.
“This is not an episode of ‘Breaking Bad.’ Nobody’s rooting for the bad guys,” Astorino added.
The raids are blessed relief to Tricy Cushner, an anti-drug educator with the Alliance for Safe Kids.
“This is the kind of news we hope to open the newspaper to,” Cushner said.
Police say some of the heroin seized in the arrests was the same heroin that killed two people recently in Buchanan and Montrose.
“To know that the person who is responsible … finally may be facing some kind of justice, it’s rewarding,” said Buchanan Police Chief Brian Tubbs.
“Reminds us that heroin is being sold on tree-lined streets,” Westchester Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth said. “It is being used and sold by young people who live in comfortable homes and circumstances. No community is immune from this problem.”
Officials said street-level dealers and their suppliers were targeted. Said one federal agent: “We’re into the supply line now.”
At least two of the suspects arrested Tuesday are named in sealed, federal indictments as kingpins, Young reported. They face the possibility of life in prison.
The good news is overdose deaths may be declining, with the pressure on the supply line and new revival treatments to help overdose victims.