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11 Indicted In Alleged Staten Island-Based Heroin Ring

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Federal officials announced Wednesday that have taken down an alleged heroin and fentanyl trafficking ring operating out of Staten Island.

As CBS2's Cindy Hsu reported, eight men have been arrested out of a total of 11 who were indicted on federal charges. They are accused of dealing heroin and fentanyl on Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey for nearly three years.

"This group was trafficking approximately a kilogram of heroin and fentanyl a week," said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James Hunt. "That much heroin and fentanyl hitting the streets is deadly."

Eight people were taken into custody Wednesday morning.

Hunt said the ring sold glassine envelopes stamped with "pray for death."

He said the drugs are so lethal that even one of the suspected dealers overdosed on it in October and had to be revived with naloxone.

The suspects are described as reputed Albanian mobsters.

Meanwhile, the DEA said the drugs are getting to kids younger and younger.

"People start experimenting with drugs just like they do with alcohol. It's usually in their early to mid-teens," Hunt said. "This is something you can't experiment with, and unfortunately, a lot of kids, it's costing their lives."

That is what happened to Lorraine Datello's daughter Christina, who died of an accidental overdose of heroin, cocaine and alcohol two and a half years ago.

Christina was 29, but her mom thinks she started experimenting with drugs as a teenager in high school.

"Christina had a lot going for her," Datello said. "She was very smart. She loved playing music. She played the clarinet."

Datello said the whole family tried to help her kick the addiction, including her younger brother. But it took over.

Now, the family tries to help others beat drugs by sharing their story and by holding a fundraiser in Christina's name -- where proceeds go to college scholarships and drug outreach programs.

"Just look at your child and see what you can do for your child, and maybe as parents on a whole, maybe we can do together," Datello said.

She said drug enforcement agencies are doing their best to get drugs off the streets, but she believes it will take a lot more to save other families from suffering from this opioid epidemic.

"Don't give up. Don't give up hope. Don't give up on your addict. Show them that you love them, and hopefully they'll find their way home," Datello said.

She said helping to save lives will be her daughter's legacy.

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