NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police have busted up an alleged ring of drug dealers who allegedly had been selling heroin, oxycodone and other drugs in southern Brooklyn – but had been shutting down operations every Friday evening to observe Shabbat.
As WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported, the five defendants were charged as part of a six month probe dubbed "Only after Sundown," New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a news release.
Police Bust Alleged Drug Ring That Halted Operations For Shabbat
Defendants Jack Zibak, 28; Jack Zaibak, 24; Eduard Sorin, 38; David Gerowitz, 37; and Philip Mandel, 25, were all charged with selling drugs from an apartment at 4190 Bedford Ave. in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, authorities said.
In a five-month investigation, police and prosecutors learned that the suspects sent mass-text messages to a long list of customers by BlackBerry. The texts included specific information about the hours the crew operated, and used coded language for specific drugs such as "D.O.B." for a certain brand of heroin, authorities said.
But customers were out of luck between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday. The drug ring had a very strict policy of observing Shabbat, and text messages repeatedly told customers not to arrive during those hours, prosecutors said.
Texts also specified windows of time in the day during which sales would take place, such as the first 15 minutes of an hour, prosecutors said. The dealers provided detailed instructions about where customers should wait in case the line to the apartment caused a bottleneck, prosecutors said.
"He said he can't do that but he can give you an 8 for 275 but its only gonna be tomorrow because he is closed for Shabbat. And the safe is locked," the alleged dealers wrote in a March 29 text to one customer.
"We are closing 7:30 on the dot and we will reopen Saturday 8:15 so if u need anything you have 45mins to get what you want," they texted to another customer on April 12.
The crew obtained a total of 23,000 pills of oxycodone worth about $460,000 – in part by forging signatures on stolen prescription sheets, prosecutors said. Many of the illegal prescriptions were stolen from doctors tied to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, prosecutors said.
Zaibak and Sorin allegedly went to pharmacies to fill the phony oxycodone prescriptions, and recruited others to do so, prosecutors said.
The alleged dealers also received frequent shipments of heroin, prosecutors said. They allegedly sold 819 glassines with individual doses of heroin, worth nearly $8,500, to undercover officers between March and April.
Police raided the apartment on April 20, shortly after the alleged dealers sent out a text reading, "Shop is now opened DOB, Blues, kpins, subs & white girl," prosecutors said. "DOB" was heroin, "blue stix" was Xanax, "subs" was Suboxone, "blues" was oxycodone, "kpins" was Klonopin, and "white girl" was cocaine, prosecutors said.
In the raid, police seized 900 glassines of heroin, 335 oxycodone pills, and quantities of the other drugs along with a sawed-off shotgun and ammunition, prosecutors said. They also found the BlackBerry used to text customers, drug paraphernalia, and other items, prosecutors said.
Zibak, Zaibak, Sorin and Gerowitz were arrested on the spot, and Mandel – who participated in sales to the undercover officer – was arrested while on his way to the apartment the same day, prosecutors said.
The suspects were all slapped with conspiracy, drug and weapons charges.
A fourth defendant -- Aron Dombroff, 30 – was also hit with drug charges, but was not named in the latest indictment, prosecutors said.
Defendant Sorin was set to appear in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, with court dates for the other defendants to follow.
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