NEW YORK. – Federal anti-drug agents and local police officers captured six Dominicans led by Ariel Tavarez (Mike), 38, and accused them of belonging to a drug gang that trafficked heroin and cocaine through text messages, having as “ punto ”a candy store known as“ Mike´s Candy Shop ”in Manhattan.
Tavarez, who was arrested along with five other members of the band, Christian Báez, Luis Mesón, Gregory Martínez, Kevin Grullon, and Jeffrey Ureña, all, formally accused Thursday in the Federal Court of the Southern District, resided in Pennsylvania, where He was traveling to New York to be in charge of drug operations.
The investigation broke up with Tavarez and his group, after one of the addicts who bought him drugs was found dead by an overdose of heroin mixed with cocaine, according to the record.
The drug delivery orders were made by text messages to a centralized telephone number and called “Candy Shop Number”.
The clients met with Báez, Mesón, Grullón and Ureña, who acted as messengers, to receive the requested drugs.
Unlike a normal candy store, “Mike’s Candy Shop” operated seven days a week at night and until noon, between 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 noon, except for the most important holidays, as Thanksgiving, Good Night and Labor Day.
The defendants distributed and delivered dozens of kilos of heroin and cocaine throughout New York City, prosecutors said, and evaded arrest, selling them to addicts to whom regular customers recommended.
The feds learned about the drug trafficking operation after an addict was found dead by a heroin and cocaine overdose in Manhattan on December 16, 2018.
Police say they found empty vials with colored caps, which had the “Mike’s Candy Shop” brand, and the victim’s cell phone with text messages to the number used for drug orders.
The deceased addict had asked Tavarez for narcotics on several occasions, including the day before the overdose, from which he died.
A “shirt” was an order for a vial of cocaine, while a “book” was the key word for ten envelopes of glass heroin, since the band made asking for narcotics as easy as ordering pizzas.
Authorities said new customers needed a referral from an existing buyer before an order was taken or a delivery was made.
The phone number was changed periodically for security reasons, and the band often used coded language when talking about dirty business.
An undercover officer, despite the precautions taken by the operation, bought heroin and cocaine on January 10, 2019, just weeks after the addict died.
Prosecutors say the drug traffickers had half a dozen bank accounts that were seized along with the material assets acquired by the defendants.
The six are charged with a conspiracy charge to distribute heroin and cocaine.
If convicted, they face up to 10 years in jail.