Suffolk District Attorney Tim Sini speaking at a press conference in March 2019 with representatives of the East End Drug Task Force. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Twenty-four people involved in a drug ring responsible for selling more than $1 million per year worth of heroin cut with fentanyl, as well as cocaine, Oxycodone pills and marijuana on and near the Shinnecock Reservation in Southampton were arrested today when law enforcement agencies executed search warrants in five locations, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini announced tonight.

This drug distribution ring, is also alleged to be linked to five fatal heroin overdoses, the DA said.

A Flanders man was one of three suppliers of narcotics to dealers who sold drugs on the reservation and areas nearby, Sini said. Kenneth Rivero, 34, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony; Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a C violent felony; and Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree, a C Felony, according to the district attorney. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

The investigation was begun in December by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York State Police, Suffolk County Police Department and members of the District Attorney’s East End Drug Task Force.

The investigation was launched following an uptick of criminal activity on the Shinnecock Reservation, including an increase in firearm violence, narcotics possession and sales, and fatal heroin overdoses both on and near the reservation, Sini said. The investigation involved the use of routine surveillance, electronic surveillance, and court-authorized eavesdropping, among other strategies, he said.

Law enforcement personnel executed search warrants at five locations related to the investigation today, resulting in the seizure of approximately 120 grams of heroin and fentanyl, 90 grams of cocaine, more than 10 pounds of marijuana, an assault weapon, numerous shotguns and rifles, and drug paraphernalia, including materials consistent with drug packaging, scales, grinders, and cutting agents, Sini said.

“For far too long, criminals have attempted to evade law enforcement and hide on the Shinnecock Reservation, terrorizing the law-abiding citizens of the Shinnecock Nation by selling drugs and committing various acts of violence, but that ends today,” Sini said. “This was a massive drug ring operating primarily out of the reservation, selling more than $1 million worth of heroin cut with fentanyl each year, and their product has been linked to at least five fatal overdoses.”

Arrested today were:

Ryan Aldrich, 27, of East Hampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

William I. Bess III, 35, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a D Felony; Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony; and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

Johnnie Booker, 45, of Bellport, is charged with Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a D felony; two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony; and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

Max Byrne, 30, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

Benjamin Diaz, 47, of the Bronx, is charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, an A1 Felony, and Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B Felony. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Joseph Dowling, 27, of Sag Harbor, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B Felony; Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony; and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

Justin Eleazer, 29, of Southampton, is charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker; an A1 felony, Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony; and Driving While Intoxicated. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Brandon Gardner, 33, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Edward Gumbs, 57, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

Thomas Halek, 49, of Hampton Bays, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

Trevor Hardin, 29, of Flanders, is charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a C Violent Felony; Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony; and Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree, a C Felony. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Ryan Kellis, 32, of Southampton, is charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, an A1 Felony; Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B Felony; four counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony; and six counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a B Felony. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Matthew Manzella, 30, of Hampton Bays, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

Walter Mims, 33, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

Derrick Quinn, 49, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Valton Reddick, 51, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Kenneth Rivero, 34, of Flanders, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony; Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a C violent felony; and Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree, a C Felony. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Nichole Rosado, 29, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Richard Short, 50, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Nicholas Spiegel, 32, of Hampton Bays, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Frank Taylor, 59, of Southampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

John Tracey, 25, of East Hampton, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a B felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 and one-half to 25 years in prison.

Two additional defendants are in custody on unrelated charges and will be charged in connection with the alleged drug distribution ring.

“I want to emphasize that this remains an ongoing investigation,” Sini said. “We will be seeking a top charge of Operating as a Major Trafficker for several more of these defendants, which is a class A-1 felony that carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.”

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

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