DA: Drug task force busts Bronx-to-Riverhead cocaine ring

A drug-smuggling ring, which allegedly ferried up to three kilos of cocaine a week using hidden compartments in vehicles traveling from New York City to Riverhead, has been busted by the East End Drug Task Force, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Robert Love, 58, of Riverhead and Miguel Matos, 45, of the Bronx were the “ringleaders” of the operation, said District Attorney spokesman Robert Clifford.

Mr. Matos’ son-in-law, Radames “Ray” Melendez, 22, also of the Bronx, allegedly served as the courier in the ring and ferried drugs from New York in to Mr. Love in Riverhead before returning to New York City to be paid, according to the statement.

During an East End Drugs Task Force investigation which began last November, detectives seized 13 cars and discovered hidden traps used to hide powdered cocaine in three of the vehicles, officials said. The electronic traps were opened by pressing hazard light, air conditioning, or windshield wiper buttons in a sequence, according to the statement.

The three defendants will be arraigned in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside Tuesday.

The men were arrested on June 13 by Riverhead Town Police and held in custody awaiting a Grand Jury indictment, which was handed up on July 26, according to court records.

Mr. Love and Mr. Matos are facing charges of second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, first-degree conspiracy, and operating a drug ring, all of which are felonies, which can carry top sentences of life in jail, or class B felonies, which carry top sentences of up to 25 years in jail.

Mr. Melendez is facing charges of first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and first-degree conspiracy, and also could face life in jail.

More details, including photos of the car’s secret compartments and cocaine and packaging material seized by the East End Drugs Task Force will be revealed at a press conference hosted by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota Tuesday morning.

The East End Drug Task Force was formed in 1988 and uses undercover officers from surrounding town and village police departments, along with officers from the state, county, and sheriff departments, to investigate narcotics on the East End.