Above: Heroin. Photo by psychonaught, via Wikipedia.
It's been a huge year for drug busts in Sullivan County. In March, a group of 13 people -- including two men in Monticello -- were arrested for trafficking heroin into upstate New York and Pennsylvania.
In May, following a trail of heroin moving upstate from New York City, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department led investigators to the Bronx, where they arrested five defendants in a $5 million drug ring. Over 26 pounds of heroin were seized, according to the New York Daily News.
And last week, on Tuesday, July 28, federal, state and local authorities announced an even bigger bust: 34 defendants operating in at least four different drug rings in Sullivan County were arrested in a massive set of raids, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who staged a press conference for the occasion.
Four different groups of people were charged with running narcotics conspiracies based in Monticello that distributed heroin and crack cocaine around Sullivan County, according to a press release.
The Times Herald-Record described the arrests as they unfolded last week:
The state and federal arrests and searches began in the dark Tuesday. Law enforcement teams assembled about 2 a.m. and started “knocking on doors” about 5 a.m., said Blake Muthig, chief of the Sullivan County sheriff’s Patrol Division.
Authorities promised that the massive joint investigation, which has been running for a year, isn't over.
"Over the last year, this joint investigation, involving local, state, county and federal assets, has concentrated on local dealers and local suppliers of heroin and crack cocaine," said Sullivan County District Attorney James R. Farrell in a press release. "The successful partnership that has been forged will continue moving forward, unabated.”
Local police from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department, the New York State Police, the village of Monticello, the village of Liberty and the town of Fallsburg worked with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and other agencies and departments on the investigation.
Calling the arrests "a clear indication of our resolve to address the drug epidemic that has besieged our community," Sullivan County Sheriff Michael A. Schiff vowed to "use every tool at our disposal" to attack Sullivan County's heroin problem.