A man accused of running a drug ring from prison was among 34 people indicted after an investigation into drugs and firearms in a rural New York County, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Most of the defendants were charged with narcotics conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars.
At a news conference in White Plains, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said 32 of the 34 suspects were in custody. He said the government is hoping to neutralize "at least four different drug rings that allegedly have been selling massive amounts of heroin and crack cocaine for years in Sullivan County.
"The devastating impact that this type of drug dealing can have on the small, rural communities like those in Sullivan County cannot be overstated," Bharara added.
Prosecutors said the drug trafficking, mostly heroin and cocaine, was centered on Monticello.
Several defendants were accused of breaking federal law by using guns in their drug dealing or by possessing guns after being convicted of previous felonies.
"Infecting our neighborhoods with drugs peddled by criminals who arm their sales force with guns is a violent and dangerous combination," said Diego Rodriguez, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York office.
One of the defendants, Darcy Copeland, was accused of running a heroin distribution ring out of Monticello even while he was in state prison for the past year. The indictment says Copeland often received guns as payment for the heroin, and he also faces a firearms charge.
The defendants were being brought to court in groups Tuesday afternoon. The court clerk, the U.S. attorney's office and the federal defenders office said they did not know who was representing Copeland.