Authorities in New York have made arrests in connection to a recently uncovered nationwide drug and gambling operation that generated at least $15 million in profit over the course of nearly two years.
Law enforcement officials announced the indictment of more than 20 people on charges stemming from their alleged involvement in the criminal organization, which oversaw the distribution of marijuana and oxycodone pills and the operation of an illegal gambling scheme.
“Whether the alleged offer was marijuana, pills or a return on bets placed through an unlawful gambling operation, the defendants developed a comprehensive system of monetizing illicit activities and trade,” New York County DA Cyrus Vance Jr. stated. “In this case, the alleged schemes generated millions of dollars in illegal revenue for the defendants, virtually none of which was reported, and likely all of which went straight into the defendants’ pockets."
With regards to the distribution of marijuana, authorities accused John Kelly, 52, and Richard Sinde, 51, of acting as ringleaders in the operation, which moved hundreds of pounds of the drug from California to New York, officials stated. Medical-grade marijuana was cultivated on the West Coast before being mailed, usually via the U.S. Postal Service, to New York in individual boxes or driven cross-country before being repackaged and sold on city streets.
Also arrested was Frank Parisi, 60, who is connected to the family that runs the famous Nolita bakery bearing his name, the New York Daily News reported. Parisi was charged in connection to the gambling portion of the operation.
In the gambling segment of the enterprise, authorities alleged that Parisi and three others worked together to maintain an illegal gaming wire room and collect and distribute money between winners and losers, generating more than $1 million in revenue during the course of the investigation.
The operation had a relatively small portion that focused on distributing illicitly acquired oxycodone pills, which earned the accused only $18,000 in profit, based solely on sales between the defendants and undercover detectives, officials added.
“As alleged, these individuals were responsible for, among other things, an elaborate cross-country drug-running scheme that farmed pot in California and sold it in New York City. Today their gig is up,” Police Commissioner William J. Bratton stated.
Parisi is charged with conspiracy and marijuana possession while Sinde and Kelly were each charged with tax fraud, conspiracy and attempted criminal possession of marijuana, Vance added. Many of the other defendants now face similar charges relating to alleged tax fraud, conspiracy and drug possession.