Formed just this past October to fight the opioid crisis, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Long Island Heroin Task Force Team arrested their first person, according to Newsday. Authorities allege that Ismail Latif of Wyandanch, New York operated a drug ring that distributed counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl. Latif sold the pills to a confidential source (CS) at several homes, as well as one time inside a CVS pharmacy and another at Mobile gas station.
According to the Complaint, from May to July, the CS met with Latif on six occasions and purchased over 1,000 blue pills made to look like oxycodone. Test results are still pending for the last three batches of pills purchased, but the complaint stated that: “Drug lab results for these pills are pending although the pills appear to be similar in size, shape and color to the previously purchased pills that tested positive for 2-furanylbenzyl fentanyl.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt wrote in a statement that: “The greatest impact in addressing the opioid threat is identifying those traffickers responsible for pushing fentanyl into users’ hands. Overdosing is as easy as polling a pill, especially when drug dealers use fentanyl to mimic less powerful opioids, like oxycodone.” At his initial court appearance, U.S. Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson ordered Latif to be remanded to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
In addition to the Long Island Task Force, enforcement teams were also set up in Charleston, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Raleigh, North Carolina. All of these areas have been hard hit by the opioid crisis. You can learn more about fentanyl and counterfeit drug incidents that have occurred in New York by reading PSM’s 2018 Infosheet.