West Babylon resident Jose Tejada is facing charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine for his role in one of the largest cocaine distribution networks ever in Suffolk County, according to the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
Tejada, 33, is in jail along with North Babylon residents Richard Occhino, 46; and Robert Perticone, 30; and Bay Shore resident Theodore Katsanos, 29. The four are charged with running a cocaine smuggling operation that originated in Mexico and funneled drugs to a kingpin in Los Angeles. The drugs were then smuggled to Suffolk using secret compartments in vehicles on car carrier trucks.
“This is one of the largest cocaine rings that has operated in Suffolk County,” said District Attorney Thomas Spota. He said the ring had been operating for five years.
The eight-month investigation netted 32 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated $3 million, nearly $900,000 in cash, illegal steroids, a cocaine press for drug street sales, money counters and two shotguns.
Suffolk Police, as well as California law enforcement, are now hunting for 33-year-old William Wright of West Hollywood, whom is described by authorities as the prime architect of the cocaine network distribution operation.
“This was truly an outstanding job by Suffolk narcotic police in eliminating a major cocaine traffic ring,” said Spota.
The investigation began with Suffolk narcotic undercover work that then led to attaining court authorized wiretaps that captured significant information about the operation, said Spota. The arrests were made on July 19 and kept confidential in order for police to uncover further suspects and operation details.
Spota said the drug transportation method illustrates the “ingenious” methods that drug dealers use in illegal operations.
“Anyway you can imagine to smuggle drugs these guys already know it and have tried it,” he said.
The Suffolk County cocaine network would pay $20,500 for one kilo and the resale street value, after being cut and prepared several times, amounted to $3.2 million, according to police.
Tejada was arrested July 19 at a stash house in Deer Park on Western Avenue, where police said they found equipment for processing and cutting cocaine.
The police recovered seven kilos of the cutting agency and $50,000 in drug proceeds at Tejada’s West Babylon house. He is being charged with conspiracy in the second degree and is being held on a $250,000 bond.
The other three are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree and held on bail bond amounts ranging from $2 million to $15 million bond.
According to police, 30 kilos of cocaine were found in a hidden trap in a Nissan 350Z and recovered by police from Occhino’s custom motorcycle shop, Radical Rides, in Deer Park.
Two kilos were found in a secret compartment of a Jeep Cherokee at Katsanos' Bay Shore home, police said, and detectives also recovered $100,000 in cash in a hidden trap in Katsanos’ bedroom as well as two electronic scales and a money counter.
Spota would not comment on where the cocaine was being sold on Long Island.