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Prosecutors: Long Island Heroin Ring Was Linked 5 Fatal Overdoses

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Prosecutors in Suffolk County said Wednesday that they have stopped a heroin operation linked to five deaths and more than a dozen overdoses.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, multiple alleged members of the heroin and fentanyl distribution ring were arraigned Wednesday.

The arrests of the suspects – three of whom were identified as Yulisa Almonte, 25, of Bay Shore, Ian Dunn, 21, of Shirley, and Jason Dyer, 26, of Shirley – came after a two-month wiretap investigation, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.

Two of the alleged suppliers were arrested on April 12, Newsday reported. The third was arrested in December.

The heroin ring they were allegedly involved with was blamed for 17 overdoses and five deaths.

"Two of the fatal overdoses were of a mother and her son," Spota said at a news conference Wednesday. "The mother was 54 years of age. Her son was 19 years of age. They died on the same day in their home in Manorville."

Prosecutors contended the mother and son died six hours after Dunn supplied them with fentanyl-laced heroin – making it more potent and more profitable.

Spota said Almonte, a mother, was the alleged leader of the drug ring, and would sometimes bring her 2-year-old child along on drugs deals, 1010 WINS Juliet Papa reported.

"In six weeks, she probably made, profited herself $90,000 to $100,000," Spota said.

Almonte had a lot of support in the courtroom.

"I think the best thing as this time to do, is not make a rush to judgment," Almonte's attorney said.

"She's innocent, and you guys will see that," a person who knew Almonte chimed in.

But Spota said the allegations spoke for themselves.

"Bringing her 2-year-old child, doing drug deals with a 2-year-old, what does that tell us?" he said.

All the defendants appeared with attorneys telling a judge their clients were not suppliers and cannot be linked to overdoses and deaths discovered in Shirley, Manorville, Mastic, Coram, and West Babylon.

An Amityville mother of three who is now pregnant was also charged with conspiracy, McLogan reported.

Two other men were also named in a second heroin ring that sold drugs between Queens and Brentwood. The second ring was busted earlier this year.

On the streets, Suffolk County families are worried given that their county leads the state in heroin overdoses.

"Heroin is a serious drug," one man said, "and I see it on the streets a lot, every day."

"Drugs around here are a major problem, and I want to keep our children safe," a woman said.

Spota said more must be done to combat the heroin crisis beyond arrests.

"Try as we may, we are not going to arrest our way out of this situation," Spota said. "Education is an absolute must, prevention, also treatment."

Long Island's two district attorneys are urging change in state law. Currently, drug dealers cannot be charged with causing death unless proven they inject users against their will.

Lawmakers are also urging insurance companies to pay for addicts' long-term treatment, not just overnight stays.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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