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Jul 31, 2012 2:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bronx-To-Riverhead Drug Ring Busted By East End Drug Task Force

Aug 1, 2012 11:38 AM

Suffolk County Police made three arrests this week, busts they say essentially crippled the largest cocaine drug ring on the East End following a seven-month investigation by the East End Drug Task Force, prosecutors announced at a press conference in Riverhead on Tuesday morning.

According to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota, Miguel Matos, 45, of the Bronx and Robert Love, 58, of Riverhead were running the multimillion-dollar operation, which saw three to four kilos of cocaine—valued at $37,500 per kilo­—being transported to Riverhead from the Bronx each week. Mr. Spota said the drugs, once repackaged for street sale, were being sold primarily in Riverhead, Flanders, Hampton Bays and Southampton.

Mr. Matos, who was the head of the operation, according to prosecutors, is considered to be one of the major cocaine dealers in the state, and was driving the drugs to Mr. Love in cars that had hidden compartments that could be opened by turning on specific car functions, like the air conditioning and windshield wipers, in a specific order to unlock the hiding spot.

The recent bust marks the first time that Mr. Matos has been arrested, according to authorities. Mr. Love has been on probation since being released from jail in 2009 after serving a 6-year sentence on cocaine possession charges, officials said.

As part of their operation, Mr. Matos, or one of his workers, would drive the cocaine to Mr. Love in Riverhead, where he would repackage the drug so it could be sold in smaller quantities, according to authorities.

Radames “Ray” Melendez, 23, of the Bronx was also arrested in connection with the drug ring, and was a drug runner, prosecutors said.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Mr. Spota said the three arrests are the first to be made involving this particular drug ring, which was responsible for selling cocaine to hundreds of East End residents, adding that he expects up to a dozen more people to be charged soon. Mr. Spota later said that investigators believe that a portion of the drug money was being sent to the Dominican Republic, where the suspects have family.

Mr. Spota said the investigation involved undercover officers, wiretapping and video surveillance, the securing and execution of eight search warrants and the seizing of 13 vehicles, including those that were used to transport the drugs. Three of the vehicles—a blue 2006 Hyundai Santa Fe, a red 2003 Ford Focus and a white 2004 Nissan Maxima—were all found to have hidden compartments for drug storage.

“This essential collaborative effort by members of the East End Task Force exemplifies the outstanding work that our law enforcement personnel are doing to keep the streets of Suffolk County safe,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber during the press conference. “We take drug trafficking very seriously and will continue our efforts to keep our communities safe to live and work in.

“I hope these arrests will send a message to those who would poison our community with drugs that they will be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he added.

Mr. Matos was charged with six felonies, including operating as a major trafficker as director of a controlled substance operation, operating as a major trafficker as a profiteer from sale, operating as a major trafficker as a profiteer from possession, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree and conspiracy in the second degree. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.

Mr. Love was also charged with six felonies, including operating as a major trafficker as a profiteer from sale, operating as a major trafficker as a profiteer from possession, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first, second and third degrees, and conspiracy in the second degree. He is also facing 25 years to life in prison.

Mr. Melendez was charged with one count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree and conspiracy in the second degree, all felonies. He faces eight to 20 years in prison.

All three men were initially expected to be arraigned on Tuesday morning, but due to a switch in legal representation, their arraignments were postponed. Both Mr. Matos and Mr. Melendez will be arraigned on Friday, August 3, before Judge Martin Efman in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead. Mr. Love will be arraigned next Wednesday, August 8, also before Judge Efman.

“I personally think this is a great day for Suffolk County law enforcement,” Mr. Spota said. “A great day for the East End Drug Task Force—they have done an admirable job over the period that I have been district attorney.”

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Don't worry, there's plenty of demand.

You'll be investigating a new supplier before you know it.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 31, 12 5:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
well said
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Jul 31, 12 5:37 PM
Thomas J. Spota you are doing great things to keep our steets safe. This tax dollars working for us.
By MR.? (8), southampton on Jul 31, 12 7:12 PM
I believe it is appropriate to note here that the Southampton Town PD has been active in the East End drug task force since Chief Wilson came on board while his predecessor had no use for it, instead runnning his own street crimes unit with all its problems that we'll be paying for well into the future. Good job.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jul 31, 12 8:55 PM
an "admiral " job?? WAKE up editor!!!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jul 31, 12 9:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
I'm not so sure Overton's method was wrong - it seemed to me Overton's force got down to the lowest levels, that is street sellers where this bust is clearly at the top. There had to have been other lower level sellers and runners involved.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Jul 31, 12 11:25 PM
Nobody puts on a better dog and pony show than DA Spota. However, since he busted the "drug kingpin's" predecessor just a year and a half ago, one wonders whether these operations do anything more than provide business opportunities for new vendors. Oh, and then there's the $60K/yr.* that it will cost us to incarcerate each of the new inmates.

But it's a small price to pay for these entertaining sesquiannual Spota presentations.

*http://www.vera.org/files/price-of-prisons-new-york-fact-sheet.pdf
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 1, 12 1:45 AM
Nobody puts on a better dog and pony show than DA Spota. However, since he busted the "drug kingpin's" predecessor just a year and a half ago, one wonders whether these operations do anything more than provide business opportunities for new vendors. Oh, and then there's the $60K/yr.* that it will cost us to incarcerate each of the new inmates.

But it's a small price to pay for these entertaining sesquiannual Spota presentations.

[Oops! Forgot that I was on the strange site that ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 1, 12 1:52 AM
Well done! Less vermin doing business on the street!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 1, 12 6:31 AM
Seriously? Well done? This deadbeat was in Spotas custody and was released. He dumped pounds of drugs here in SH Town for years - yet once released it took yet more years to catch him again. I wonder how much Street Crime knew & if they were simply extending professional courtesy to this dealer by leaving him alone. This is not a victory, it's an embarrassment. Also, I see nothing in any reports of SHTPD involvement in this bust. How much of this criminals drugs flowed into our Schools while Street ...more
By G (342), Southampton on Aug 1, 12 6:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
He was NOT in DA Spota's custody. (no one is for that matter) He was incarcerated upstate by NYS Corrections.
Why do people read so selectivly?
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Aug 7, 12 10:52 AM
How could you miss SHTPD involment in the bust-Lisa Costa was in all the pictures
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Aug 1, 12 7:56 AM
Did not miss anything ee68. While it was nice of Spota to include Lisa in the photo op - that's all it was. No other Depts trust the SHTPD, this is well known.
Why would they? For years the SHTPD snubbed the Task Force and all other outside Agencies. For years the SHTPD turned a blind eye to mass drug dealing and rampant drug use within the Dept itself. Does anyone really believe that the County or other Agencies would trust the SHTPD with sensitive case info? If our Dept has been on the ball ...more
By G (342), Southampton on Aug 2, 12 7:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Nice job. In other news, analysts predict record lows at Hamptons night clubs for August.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Aug 2, 12 9:14 AM