A Flanders man who was one of 15 people arrested following an investigation into street gangs and narcotics in Riverhead last year was sentenced Friday in federal court to 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Daniel Harris, 36, faced charges of possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and 28 grams of cocaine base, as well as possession of multiple firearms. He pleaded guilty in April to two counts of a three count indictment.
Ms. Harris was arrested at his Flanders home Nov. 14, 2018, after undercover officers made multiple purchases of crack cocaine from him at the home, officials said. A search warrant was executed and police recovered more than one kilogram of powder cocaine and over 50 grams of cocaine base, $10,073 in cash, a shotgun, a .38-caliber revolver and a 9mm handgun.
At his guilty proceeding, Mr. Harris admitted he kept the firearms to protect his drug trafficking business, officials said.
“With today’s sentence, the defendant is deservedly punished for endangering the residents of eastern Long Island with his drug dealing and arming himself to the teeth to protect his illicit business,” said Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement.
The investigation was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement under the Department of Justice.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the arrest of six alleged Bloods gang members last week, some of whom were connected to a 2015 murder in Riverhead. Those arrests stemmed from the 2018 investigation when the 15 suspects were charged.
In a letter dated Sept. 19, 2019, to United States District Judge Arthur Spatt, attorney Nancy Bartling said Mr. Harris is remorseful for his criminal conduct. The letter described Mr. Harris as someone who grew up in a troubled environment who had to care for himself at a young age. His mother suffered from addiction and his father died when he was 3 years old. His mother died in 1988 from cancer when he was 17.
Ms. Bartling said Mr. Harris turned to selling drugs as a means to support himself.
“Daniel accepts and acknowledges that he has made poor choices and has been around the wrong crowd for part of his adult life,” Mr. Bartling wrote. “He hopes to look forward to the opportunity to spend more time in the future with his girlfriend and 9-year-old son.”