What to Know
- Six people who allegedly operated a New York City drug delivery service have been arrested
- Ariel Tavarez, 38, is accused of overseeing delivery orders placed by text messages to a centralized phone number for "Mike's Candyshop"
- Law enforcement officials became aware of the drug trafficking operation after a person was found dead in Manhattan from overdose
Six people who allegedly operated a New York City drug delivery service have been arrested after one of their clients was found dead, overdosed on narcotics from "Mike's Candyshop."
Ariel Tavarez, 38, of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, along with Christian Baez, 33, Luis Meson, 31, Gregoris Martinez, 34, Kevin Grullon, 25, and Joiffrey Urena, 27, of New York were taken into police custody on Wednesday, according to the Southern District of New York's U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment did not name the client but an official with knowledge of the case told The New York Times he is the tech executive who co-founded the Vine app, Colin Kroll.
Tavarez is accused of overseeing delivery orders placed by text messages to a centralized phone number dubbed the "Candyshop Number." She would then arrange for clients to meet with Baez, Meson, Grullon or Urena, who acted as couriers.
Unlike a regular candy store, Mike's Candyshop operated seven days per week from approximately 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., officials said, with the exception of major holidays such as Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and Labor Day.
They distributed and delivered "numerous kilograms" of heroin and cocaine throughout New York City, prosecutors said, and would avoid detection by only selling to people who have been referred to by existing customers.
Law enforcement officials became aware of the drug trafficking operation after Kroll was found dead from heroin and cocaine overdose in Manhattan on Dec. 16, 2018. Police say they found empty vials with colored tops, which turned out to be the branding signature of "Mike's Candyshop," as well as the client's cellphone containing text messages to the Candyshop Number.
The client had ordered narcotics from Tavarez on several occasions, including the day before their overdose, prosecutors said.
All six of the accused were charged with one count of conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine. If convicted, they face up to at least 10 years in prison.