Following the news of Wednesday’s $3.4 million prescription drug bust, the Drug Enforcement Agency and NYPD announced another area bust yesterday afternoon involving 11 members of a drug ring that trafficked in prescription painkillers and cocaine in Sheepshead Bay and Staten Island.
After picking up three suspects earlier this year, and aided by a nine-month wiretap investigation, authorities unraveled a multi-tier prescription drug and cocaine ring that tied together three separate conspiracies across the two boroughs. Among the 11 arrested, five were residents of the Sheepshead Bay area, and one was supplied by the same allegedly crooked doctor picked up in this week’s other big bust.
“This poly drug trafficking confederation operated like a variety store, selling any type of illicit drug they could get their hands on. The joint task force infiltrated their ranks in order to put them out of business,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Crowell.
From a press release from the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s office:
The investigation began with two street-level drug traffickers, SIMON BERMAN and ROMAN VITKIN, who sold oxycodone and cocaine in the vicinity of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and elsewhere. Court authorized wiretaps, undercover drug purchases and other investigative techniques enabled agents to identify three intersecting conspiracies and work their way up to successively higher levels on the supply chain.
In the first conspiracy detailed in the indictment, BERMAN received oxycodone from two suppliers, BELLA ZELENAYA and RONALD PELTS. The investigation revealed that ZELENAYA illegally received prescriptions for oxycodone from a corrupt Sheepshead Bay physician with whom she was acquainted. BERMAN, VITKIN, ZELENAYA and PELTS used cryptic language in communicating with each other in phone conversations and text messages.
The physician mentioned here is the same Zhanna Kanevsky busted by the DEA and NYPD yesterday for her role in the $3.4 million ring, for which Kanevsky is accused of doling out phony prescriptions of oxycodone and other drugs to supply local criminal enterprises.
The second conspiracy involved BERMAN and VITKIN tapping another set of suppliers to obtain cocaine. BERMAN bought cocaine from defendants FELIKIS MAZOR and ANNA GLEYZERMAN, a couple living in Sheepshead Bay. MAZOR in turn procured cocaine from PAUL SANTIAGO, a Staten Island resident. SANTIAGO obtained cocaine from IRVING BARRERO. ALINA SOROKA also sold cocaine as part of this conspiracy. The defendants used cryptic language in communicating with each other in phone conversations and text messages.
For the third conspiracy, BERMAN obtained cocaine from supplier STEVEN JIMENEZ. Defendant CESAR NARANJO-VELASQUEZ, an associate of JIMENEZ and a New Jersey resident, also sold cocaine as part of this conspiracy.
The story goes back further than yesterday’s arrests. Berman was the first to be arrested, back on February 15. He was caught trying to purchase 10,000 pills of oxycodone from an undercover DEA agent at a Sunset Park hotel, with the intention of reselling the drugs, prosecutors say. While under arrest, he attempted to weasel his way out of it, offering $20,000 in cash to the arresting officer.
He now faces two counts of bribery, in addition to drug and conspiracy charges.
Then, when agents searched his Shell Road apartment, they found 574 more pills of oxycodone and 17 grams of cocain, as well as $19,000.
In March, agents made their second bust in the case. On March 20, they searched Mazor’s East 29th Street home, where they found an “AK-47 style” semi-automatic rifle, more than 140 grams of cocaine, 40 pills of oxycodone, nearly a pound of marijuana, and just shy of $6,400 in cash.
Mazer was with Gleyzerman, keeping a two-year-old child in the apartment, alongside the guns and drugs.
They now face charges of endangering a child and unlawful dealing with a child, in addition to the drug possession and weapons possession charges.
The third and final arrest to occur before yesterday’s busts took place in April, when Santiago was stopped by police in the Toys ‘R’ Us parking lot at 2875 Flatbush Avenue. After searching his car, they found 250 grams of cocaine, which led to a search of his Staten Island home, where they found three more firearms – all handguns.
The remainder of the 11-person ring was picked up yesterday, and authorities executed a search of what they suspected was a stash house for Berman. Located in East New York, the house had more than half a kilogram of cocaine, as well as heroin, a kilo press and a money counter.
“These intersecting criminal organizations bought and sold addictive pain pills as freely as they dealt cocaine. The four firearms seized during this investigation demonstrate the potential for violence that is always present in the drug trade,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
Those arrested were:
- Simon Berman, 24, of East 7th Street
- Roman Vitkin, 25, of West 8th Street
- Bella Zelenaya, of Lake Avenue
- Ronald Pelts, 23, of West 8th Street
- Felikis Mazor, 26, of East 29th Street
- Anna Gleyzerman, 28, of Staten Island
- Alina Soroka, 25, of Staten Island
- Paul Santiago, 29, of Staten Island
- Irving Barrero, of Corona, NY
- Steven Jimenez, 28, of Ocean Avenue
- Cesar Naranjo-Velasquez, 26, of New Jersey