An extensive Williamsburg heroin ring was busted on Thursday, involving more than two dozen defendants, including a community court employee and an entire family, authorities said.
The monthslong investigation, which included wiretaps, culminated in 368-count indictment.
The 25 defendants were charged with several offenses, including second-degree conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance and fourth-degree money laundering.
"There is a growing heroin epidemic in New York and other parts of the country that's literally is killing many of our young people," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said on Thursday during a news conference. "Heroin is cheap and it's highly addictive."
The heroin, which went by several street names like "Gucci" and "Scorpion," was sold primarily around the ringleader's Driggs Avenue apartment. The drugs were packaged in boxes of Apple Jacks cereal, Thompson said.
The alleged ringleader, 24-year-old Josie Tavera, also known as "Fresh," apparently employed his mother, sister, brother and two cousins to obtain the drugs, bag and transport them to several couriers and dealers, Thompson said. Tavera was held without bail during his arraignment on Thursday.
Investigators were not able to determine where the heroin originally came from.
But Thompson said the dealers were aware that the drugs, particularly the "Scorpion" brand, had dangerous side effects, including swelling, hives, and shock.
"He face blew up, his lips blew up, he was in hives right from head to toe. I couldn't stop laughing at him, bro," one of the defendants, 37-year-old Staten Island resident Michael Mineo, said when captured on a wiretap when a customer said he went into shock. "[He's] like I feel like I got bit by a scorpion."
The defendants also included a man who worked at a midtown community court and a man who applied to be a drug counselor. It was not immediately clear if the court employee sold the drugs to anyone during work.