Home Police & Fire Breaking News Fifteen people charged with trafficking crack cocaine on the East End

Fifteen people charged with trafficking crack cocaine on the East End

Police vehicles at the Doctors Path apartment complex Wednesday morning. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Earlier today, three separate indictments were unsealed in federal court in Central Islip charging 12 defendants as part of a coordinated federal and state takedown of several large-scale crack cocaine distribution operations in various areas of the East End of Long Island. See prior story.

Five of the people arrested are members or associates of the Bloods street gang, according to prosecutors.

In addition, one defendant was charged in a complaint with possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and possession of crack cocaine. The defendants facing federal charges were arrested today, arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judges Anne Y. Shields and Steven I. Locke, and all ordered detained pending trial. Two additional defendants were arrested on related New York state drug charges by members of the East End Drug Task Force.

Three federal defendants remain fugitives.

As alleged in court filings, in early 2018, members of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force and the Suffolk County East End Drug Task Force began conducting an investigation into street gangs and narcotics traffickers operating in and around Riverhead. The defendants, many of whom were members or associates of the Bloods street gang, were involved in the large-scale distribution of crack cocaine.

Several of the defendants would “cook” powder cocaine into crack cocaine, to increase its potency and street value. In one instance, while a defendant was cooking cocaine, a child was present in the residence. Members of law enforcement executed search warrants at multiple locations today, recovering seven firearms, including an AR-15 rifle, three kilograms of cocaine, four pounds of marijuana, a quantity of crack cocaine and heroin and $10,000 in cash.

Charged by federal prosecutors today were: 

TERRILL LATNEY (also known as “Motis” and “Mo”) Age: 39
Riverhead, New York

ROMAINE HOPKINS (also known as “Foo”) Age: 36
Riverhead, New York

MATTHEW PITTMAN (also known as “Pearl”) Age: 43
Southampton, New York

KENNETH BELCHER (also known as “KB”) Age: 31
Riverhead, New York

KOTARRA JACKSON (also known as “Red”) Age: 36
Riverhead, New York

JOHN GAMBLE (also known as “Bones”) Age: 37
Shirley, New York

RANDY SMITH Age: 33
Riverhead, New York

DEON SHORTER Age: 22
Mastic, New York

TRAMAINE BROWN (also known as “Bootsie”) Age: 29
Jamesport, New York

QUANDOL LEWIS Age: 34
Riverhead, New York

DEMARIO WESTON (also known as “MK”) Age: 34
Riverhead, New York

DAYNA BARROW (also known as “SI”) Age: 35
Riverhead, New York

DANIEL HARRIS Age: 25
Riverhead, New York

In a detention memo filed with the court today, prosecutors asked the court to enter permanent orders of detention pending trial “because each of the defendants represents a danger to the community and is a significant flight risk.”

Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) Long Island Gang Task Force and members of the Suffolk County East End Drug Task Force began conducting an investigation into various street gangs and narcotics traffickers operating in and around Riverhead in early 2018, prosecutors said.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement conducted dozens of controlled purchases of narcotics from numerous targets of the investigation.

During the course of the investigation, each of the defendants conspired with one another to distribute at least 280 grams of crack cocaine and each participated in the sale of substantial quantities of crack cocaine, prosecutors said in the memo.

Hopkins, Belcher and Charles Gamble frequently dealt crack out of their residences, while Hopkins residence in Riverhead and the residence of another man in Calverton whose name did not appear in an indictment yesterday, were frequently used as locations to process powder cocaine into crack cocaine, a process commonly called “cooking,” according to the court document.

Latney, Jackson, Gamble and Shorter are members or associates of the Bloods street gang, according to prosecutors.

“The toxic mix of street gangs, drug dealing and illegal firearms poses a direct threat to the safety of our citizens and our community,”  United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a press release.  “The Eastern District and our law enforcement partners in the FBI, ATF and Suffolk County will continue to target, penetrate and destroy criminal gangs that inflict addiction, violence and grief on the people of Suffolk County.”

Editor’s note: A criminal charge is an accusation. By law, a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.