Gonzalez Announces Brooklyn-Based Drug Distribution Ring Busted

An East New York man was busted after allegedly heading a multi-state narcotics distribution ring, acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill announced today.

Jerome Horton, 47, of East New York along with 33 other people have been variously charged in a 357-count indictment with criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy and other crimes for their alleged roles in a narcotics trafficking operation that sold heroin and cocaine, both in Brooklyn and as far away as Arizona.

The perpetrators also allegedly sold furanyl fentanyl, a relatively new and deadly opiate, being blamed for countless overdoses in Brooklyn and beyond.

Some of the deadly drugs that were seized.

“The indictment describes a sprawling narcotics ring that operated from Brooklyn across the city, the state and the country. Those who push these deadly poisons on our streets, concerned only with their own lucrative profits, devastate the communities where they operate and feed the disease of addiction, which ultimately touches all of us. Drug analogs, like the furanyl fentanyl in this case, highlight a dangerous gap in our narcotics laws that we will work to address with our partners in Albany,” said Gonzalez.

Horton alegedly ran the operation with Willie Billingslea, 43, directly below him. They allegedly had a number of redistributors who purchased and resold heroin and cocaine in amounts ranging from five to 800 grams. The alleged redistributors included Christopher Corley, Brian Davis, Stephone Nottingham, and Gary Felton.

The primary supplier of the ring was allegedly Nigel Maloney, who was based in Phoenix and would mail heroin and cocaine to Warren Appolon, who operated out of his home in Jamaica, Queens. Appolon is accused of supplying the narcotics to Billingslea, who worked on behalf of Horton.

When that supply chain was not enough to satisfy the high demand of the ring, the investigation revealed that the members of the ring sought additional suppliers. Joseph Raffone and Kristian Cruz allegedly served as secondary suppliers of heroin and furanyl fentanyl, apparently referred to as “White China” and received in bulk through the mail.

Furanyl fentanyl is a highly potent opiate that can be stronger than similar drugs and is often cheaper than heroin – it is an analog of the opiate fentanyl.  Based on its slightly different chemical composition, it is not currently a controlled substance under New York State law, although the federal government listed it as a Schedule I controlled substance in November 2016.

It is alleged that Horton, Billingslea and their co-conspirators stored narcotics and sales proceeds under floor boards, in storage rooms and other locations. They also utilized vehicles equipped with elaborate hiding spaces (or “traps”) to store and transport the drugs.

Customers contacted members of the operation by making phone calls or sending text messages to arrange transactions. The sales were typically completed during hand-to-hand transactions in vehicles, in buildings or on the street, throughout New York City, according to the indictment. As alleged, when dealers ran out, they contacted the above-mentioned ringleaders and arranged for the pick-up of new supplies, at which point outstanding debts were also settled.

During the course of the investigation, a total of 2.455 kilograms of cocaine, 1.704 kilograms of heroin and 4.581 kilograms of furanyl fentanyl were recovered.  In addition, 17 operable firearms were seized in the course of the investigation.

Most of the defendants were arrested and arraigned this week and last week before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Foley on a 357-count indictment in which they are variously charged with first-, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, first-, second- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second- and fourth-degree conspiracy and related counts.

The top count in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

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