Video surveillance, wire taps: Inside the Lewis Street drug bust

Police raid 29 Lewis Street in the Millbrook Gables section of Riverhead Nov. 13. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)
Police raid 29 Lewis Street in the Millbrook Gables section of Riverhead Nov. 5. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

Four children were living in the Oakland Drive North home when a team of police, including K-9 units, came looking for Darius Strong last Wednesday and hauled the 35-year-old off in handcuffs.

The police, working with the East End Drug Task Force, also found heroin, cocaine, oxycodone pills, ammunition and a loaded 9 mm pistol in the raid. The ammo was found in a child’s room, not too far from the unsecured handgun, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

“I don’t know what could have happened if one of those kids got that gun,” he said.

“The ammunition was in one of the boys’ bedrooms,” further explained a high-ranking officer in the task force, who asked that his name not be printed due to the sensitivity of his investigative work. “The gun was outside the bedroom, in a closet crawl space.”

Mr. Strong, an ex-con who had just gotten off parole, is now facing a slew of drugs, weapons and child endangerment charges. His lawyer declined to comment for this story.

His arrest is the latest in an East End Drug Task Force investigation that stretches back to May 2013 and has netted over a dozen arrests thus far — with more expected. 

The investigation included undercover agents, confidential informants, hidden surveillance cameras and the tapping of cell phones. It involved police from across East End departments, as well as county and state police, the sheriff’s office and personnel from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Homeland Security Investigations.

All were focused on what Mr. Spota and his lead investigators described as an open-air drug market, the likes of which they had never before seen, outside a long-vacant house at 29 Lewis St. in Riverhead. Locals had come to call the building “The Carport” due to its most distinguishing, yet sagging, feature.

Of those arrested so far, Mr. Spota and his investigators say four are confirmed members of the Bloods street gang, though attorneys for two of the accused deny the alleged gang affiliation.