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Seven North Fork residents indicted on drug charges in broad probe of local illicit operations

Seven North Fork residents were among 30 people indicted Wednesday in a series of sweeping narcotics investigations that stretched from one end of Suffolk County to the other.

The investigations uncovered what law enforcement officials described as three distinct drug operations led by a trio of alleged gang members peddling cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and cocaine laced with fentanyl countywide.

One of the three alleged leaders, Paris Parks, is a Greenport resident who authorities say is a Bloods gang member who sold felony weight amounts of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl to undercover police officers in deals ranging from $3,500 to $10,000 per transaction, from February, 2022 to July, 2023.

Mr. Parks’ attorney, Robert Macedonio, said his client has pleaded not guilty, and said in an interview that “obviously these are extremely serious allegations.

“We have received little to no discovery to date. Once I receive all the discovery and documentation on the case, we can do a full evaluation of the charges.”

Among the co-defendants are three Riverhead residents, as well as one defendant each from Shelter Island, Orient and Southold.  

The Southampton Town Police Department, the Southold Town Police Department and the Riverhead Town Police Department participated in the massive multi-agency investigation — which involved the execution of more than 100 search warrants of cell phones, residences, vehicles and other digital data sources, as well as thousands of hours of surveillance.

More than two kilograms of cocaine and a kilogram of fentanyl were seized during the probes, as well as illegal firearms including an assault rifle with a high-capacity ammunition feeding device, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney, whose office headed up the investigations.  

“Along with our law enforcement partners, we undertook a comprehensive investigation into who was dealing deadly drugs in Suffolk County,” Mr. Tierney said in a statement. “We discovered three alleged drug distribution networks and set about to dismantle them.” The statement went on to say that “overdoses in Suffolk County, just like the rest of the United States, are at crisis levels. This is an emergency, and we are treating it as such.”

In the summer of 2021, six North Fork residents suffered fatal overdoses from cocaine laced with fentanyl over the course of three devastating days in August. The oldest was 40, the youngest 27. Several suspects in two separate cases are facing charges for supplying the lethal drugs.

Together, the 30 defendants in the new cases are facing 132 charges, including long-term conspiracies to distribute narcotics, the sale and possession of narcotics, money laundering and illegal firearms possession.

The district attorney said that Riverhead resident Lusbin Antonio Hernandez-Garcia, 34, and his co-defendants ran a “large-scale cocaine trafficking operation,” and that Mr. Hernandez-Garcia “sold primarily in the Riverhead area.”

Over a six-month period, Mr. Hernandez is alleged to have sold narcotics to an undercover police officer on eight occasions, with two of those transactions being “felony weight cocaine,” meaning, in this case, at least two ounces of the drug — which sells by the gram at the street level .

Mr. Hernandez-Garcia faces a top charge of 2nd degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

In New York state, A1 felony weight is at least four ounces, while A2 felony weight is at least two ounces. A number of the co-defendants are accused of selling both A1 and A2 felony weight narcotics to undercover officers.

Mr. Parks, one of the alleged ringleaders, is charged with selling A1 felony weight narcotics, including fentanyl and cocaine, on nine different occasions, according to Mr. Tierney.

Edwin Mazariegos-Manchame, 21, of Riverhead is facing a top charge of 2nd degree criminal sale of controlled substance, while  Nora Manchame-Orellana, 40, of Riverhead, is facing a top charge of 2nd degree conspiracy, as is Timothy Busso, 26, of Southold and Edgar Ochoa-Avila, 35, of Orient. Brian Weslek, 42, of Shelter Island is charged with 5th degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Lawyers for only four of the seven North Fork defendants could be identified on Wednesday. Attorneys for Mr. Weslek and Mr. Busso did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Colin Astarita, Mr. Hernandez-Garcia’s attorney, was about to meet with his client’s family and said he would respond as soon as possible.

In addition to the local police departments, Suffolk County police and the district attorney’s office, the investigations involved the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, the federal Drug Enforcement Adminstration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

On Wednesday, Southold Town Police announced the arrest of an eighth North Fork resident Maximillian Silas, 35, of Greenport, who was charged with possession of a “large quantity of fentanyl, crack cocaine and cocaine. The arrest, which appears to be unrelated to the three alleged drug rings, stems from a joint investigation between town police and the East End Drug Task Force. Mr. Silas was also charged with resisting arrest.