OCDETF Operation Zombie Island shuts down major heroin and fentanyl distribution organization on Staten Island
NEW YORK 1.17.2018 – James J. Hunt, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael E. McMahon, the District Attorney for Richmond County, James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), and Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging Medin Kosic, a/k/a “Dino,” Jasmin Cejovic, a/k/a “Min,” Paul Van Manen, Mirsad Bogdanovic, a/k/a “Mike,” Shaun Sullivan, Theodore Banasky, a/k/a “Freddy,” a/k/a “Eduardo,” Anthony Francese, Alexander Bucci, Joseph Cucciniello, a/k/a “Cuch,” Kenneth Charlton, and Jennifer Bogdanovic with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl. Eight defendants were arrested on these charges this morning. Van Manen and Sullivan, who were in custody on state charges, were transferred to federal custody today. The defendants are expected to be arraigned before United States Magistrate Henry Pitman in Manhattan federal court later today.
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said: “Every day, heroin users put their lives in the hands of mad scientists. This organization’s trial and error chemistry resulted in unregulated potency and unnecessary overdoses. The Strike Force and our partners pooled resources in order to dismantle this organization and shut down a major opioid source of supply in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan and New Jersey.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, these defendants created a network spanning New York City and into New Jersey for the distribution of highly addictive and dangerous drugs. Even after they realized the potency of the drugs they were distributing and selling – and the overdose risk those drugs posed – the defendants allegedly continued to sell their poison and to fuel the opioid epidemic plaguing our nation. Today’s arrests are part of our continued commitment, along with our law enforcement partners, to stop the flow of heroin and fentanyl into and out of New York.”
District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said: “With the drug epidemic intensifying in Staten Island and other hard-hit parts of the City, these defendants continued to flood our streets with heroin and fentanyl, peddling poison that led to several overdoses. Our mission to investigate every overdose through the Overdose Response Initiative has helped law enforcement hold drug dealers accountable for the lives they have destroyed, and today’s indictments are a direct result of these ongoing efforts. The prosecutors in my office’s Narcotics-Investigations Bureau will continue working together with the NYPD and our federal partners to ensure that we attack the drug epidemic on all fronts.”
Police Commissioner O’Neill said: “The eleven defendants in this case are accused of operating a heroin and fentanyl distribution ring in Staten Island and other parts of our City. As alleged, they continued to peddle the deadly product even after one of the defendants overdosed himself. When I spoke recently about the reduction in overdoses on Staten Island in the year 2017, I spoke about the NYPD’s continued commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic. The charges in this case come as a result of the kind of precision policing that’s one part of the cure.”
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said: “Those charged today are alleged to have packaged highly addictive drugs in Brooklyn and Staten Island, and sell them on our city streets. Our agency is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to seek out and arrest those criminals who choose to bring heroin and fentanyl into our neighborhoods.”
NYSP Superintendent George P. Beach II said: “Once again through partnership and good police work between our law enforcement partners, we were able to dismantle a dangerous heroin/fentanyl drug trafficking operation. For years, these individuals distributed large amounts of these toxic substances throughout the New York City and New Jersey area, never once concerned about the deadly effects of these drugs on these communities. These arrests should send a strong message that we will continue to do all we can to prevent these drugs from making it to our neighborhoods. I commend our members and our law enforcement partners for their hard work in uncovering this operation and the arrests.”
As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
The defendants were members of a drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”) that operated in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey. The DTO obtained heroin and fentanyl from a supplier, which was then stored and packaged in Staten Island or Brooklyn, and resold in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey, among other places. Certain defendants also arranged to sell narcotics while in Manhattan.
Between 2015 and January 2018, the DTO was responsible for distributing large quantities of heroin, including heroin laced with fentanyl, in New York City and other locations. During the course of the conspiracy, DTO members became aware of the risk posed by the drugs that they sold. In October 2017, defendant Shaun Sullivan overdosed from heroin supplied by the DTO, but was revived with naloxone. Members of the DTO knew of Sullivan’s overdose and the potency of the narcotics they were distributing. Even after Sullivan overdosed, the DTO continued to distribute heroin and fentanyl to customers in New York City.
A chart setting forth the names, ages, residences, and maximum penalties for the defendants, each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, is set forth below. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
The arrest was the result of a long-term investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative and part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program. Mr. Berman noted that the investigation is ongoing
This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Catherine Geddes and Stephanie Lake are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
United States v. Medin Kosic et al.