MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Authorities announced a major drug takedown on Long Island Monday.
Cocaine, crack, heroin - and some of it was being packed up feet from playing children at day care.
As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, the alleged narcotics ring was fueling violent crimes in Hempstead and beyond.
Inside a Pierson Avenue Hempstead home is what appears to be a fully functional illegal day care center. But prosecutors say the crimes didn't stop there: Cocaine was being packaged as part of a massive drug ring.
"Parents trying to work through the pandemic left their children at a day care and this is what their kids were exposed to. It's horrifying to me as a parent and as the district attorney," Nassau County DA Madeline Singas said.
Singas said the 18 month investigation involved the Postal Service, ATF, FBI and state police.
"It's just completely despicable to do that with children around. A granule size of fentanyl around can kill you, and that's an adult," said New York State Police Capt. Christopher Casale.
The investigation was launched after an uptick in violent crime in the village of Hempstead. Wiretaps led to 40 people - nine alleged kingpins indicted among them.
Among the items seized were 38 illegal guns, some of them assault rifles, along with 20 pounds of cocaine and heroin.
Some of it was stored at a Frasier Street house, called "the honeycomb" in wiretaps.
It was a sweet deal for drug dealers through the pandemic, accused of nearly doubling prices amid a frenzy in demand.
"People are struggling. People are still struggling. Their access to services were limited. As a result these people took advantage of that, drug prices soared," Singas said.
A second day care center in Rosedale, Queens was also allegedly uses. A neighbor told Gusoff they had no idea.
Community leaders are hoping it's a heavy blow to thriving drug business.
"I think the drug bust along with the gun bust will make a significant impact. It will lower the violent crimes," said Hempstead Village Trustee Lamont Johnson.
"We took down very significant players in terms of criminal activity in Long Island and Hempstead," ATF Senior Special Agent Eric Murray.
Prosecutors say the cocaine was at times cut with fentanyl at a time fatal overdoses are piling up 30%.
In Nassau county, they say the drugs are connected to at least one fatal overdose and they are investigating others.
The drugs seized have a street value of almost $3 million.
for more features.