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21 arrested in Staten Island drug bust, including well-known local businessman, DA says

21 arrested in Staten Island drug bust including well-known local businessman, DA says
21 arrested in Staten Island drug bust including well-known local businessman, DA says 01:06

NEW YORK -- A well-known local businessman was among the 21 people arrested in a major drug bust Wednesday morning on Staten Island, District Attorney Michael McMahon announced.

Law enforcement officers made the arrests in the Stapleton section of the borough. 

The main target of the investigation was Ettore Mazzei, who was indicted on 61 counts. He's a businessman who operated Chez Vous Catering, and was even honored a few years ago for his contributions to the community.

McMahon said Mazzei preyed upon people who suffered addiction and even pressed them into servitude in his business.

According to the DA, 150 people in the borough died of drug overdoses just last year. A 14-month investigation resulted in large sales of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl to undercover officers.

DA calls Mazzei "a crooked, evil businessman"  

Twenty others were picked up in a sweep of the Stapleton section, where authorities say the group was operating a massive drug-dealing network. McMahon said the breadth of the crimes were mind-boggling, and included drug dealing, extortion and fraud.

"Like a modern-day Fagin, a character from Dickens' 'Great Expectations,' Mazzei preyed on vulnerable people who suffered from addiction illness and oppressed them into servitude in his catering business for housing and, ultimately, for drug dealing," McMahon said, adding, "Mazzei built a labyrinth of crime, including drug dealing, extortion, and fraud against numerous government programs, including COVID-19 aid, housing support, food stamps and other financial assistance. He is a successful businessman for sure -- a crooked, evil businessman."

NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban also released a statement commending law enforcement and the DA on the arrests.

"The defendants' alleged actions plagued neighborhoods in Staten Island by littering the streets with illegal narcotics that led to overdose deaths and endangered countless more New Yorkers," Caban said. "These allegations are particularly galling given that the driving force behind this illicit drug operation -- a local landlord, chef and entrepreneur -- was recently recognized as a pillar of the community by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. Putting personal and financial gain above people's lives is the polar opposite of what New Yorkers expect and deserve from their leaders."

Linda Baran, president and CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, echoed the police commissioner's words.

"The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce is saddened and shocked to learn of the allegations against Ettore Mazzei. The Chamber commends District Attorney Michael McMahon and the NYPD for their continuing work in identifying and addressing illicit drug activity in our community," Baran said.

Bail for Mazzei was set at $3 million cash and $5 million bond.

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