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Old 09-14-2020, 06:11 PM
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Default Busted Hispanic drug dealers used pandemic to price gouge: Authorities

https://nypost.com/2020/09/14/drug-d...e-authorities/

Busted drug dealers used pandemic to price gouge: Authorities
By Rebecca Rosenberg and Craig McCarthy
September 14, 2020 | 4:22pm


Items confiscated during arrests of the group from Mr. Bota's vehicle
Special Narcotics prosecutor


Authorities busted a drug ring that tried to capitalize on a pandemic-fueled shortage to overcharge customers — pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars during the lockdown in Brooklyn, officials announced Monday.

The year-long investigation, led by the NYPD, Brooklyn DA’s Office and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, led to indictments against 10 alleged members of the operation — with the accused ringleader before a Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday.

Miguel Rivera, 42, was arraigned Monday afternoon on charges of operating as a major trafficker, conspiracy and a slew of other drugs charges along with his right-hand man Alberto Bota, 55, and his alleged supplier Jose Lopez Santos, 42, authorities said.

“For them, the crisis provided an opportunity to charge some of the highest prices for cocaine seen in New York City in recent years,” said NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.

Rivera allegedly bought five kilos of cocaine at a mark-up of nearly 50 percent between February and May and, as the pandemic locked down New York City, sold the drugs at a 3 to 5 percent mark-up on the street, authorities said.

The trio was busted on July 8 after arranging the sale of a kilogram of the drug for $41,000, according to police.

Rivera was arrested with 799 grams of cocaine in his car and Santos had a black bag in his car with $41,000, police said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic created cocaine supply shortages that allowed alleged high level drug traffickers Rivera and Bota to price gouge their desperate clientele,” Brennan said.

The investigation started in August 2019 after a non-fatal overdose near the Farragut Houses, a New York City Housing Authority.

During the investigation, cops recorded Rivera and Santos on a series of calls talking about selling kilos of cocaine and, at various times, sold to undercover nearly two dozen times, authorities said.

When officers turned over Rivera’s storage unit at 980 Fourth Ave. in Sunset Park on a warrant on July 15, cops found firearms, bulletproof vests and more than $80,000 in cash.

Rivera’s apartment was searched two days later and another $83,300 in vacuum-sealed bags was found at his Queens apartment on Myrtle Avenue, cops said.

Bota and Santos both face charges of conspiracy and various drugs charges, authorities said.

On Friday, six others were arraigned over their alleged roles in the Brooklyn drug network.
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