Acting Kings County DA: 34 charged in sprawling drug ring

Acting Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYPD detectives announced Wednesday that 34 people have been charged in a drug ring that extended from Arizona to New York City to China.

Officials believe the drug ring brought heroin, cocaine and fentanyl into Brooklyn. As part of the long-term investigation dubbed Operation Hardball, officers began taking down doors and making arrests on March 22.

Officials say the bust yielded multiple kilos of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, more than $300,000 in cash, and 17 firearms.

Detectives say many of the 34 people arrested were from Brooklyn, had gang affiliations and had prior convictions.

Detectives say primary supplier Nigel Maloney would mail heroin and cocaine to Queens. They say William Billingslea would then take the drugs and distribute them in Brooklyn.

Detectives say when the demand outgrew the supply, the drug ring turned to Chinese suppliers to mail them a potent new fentanyl-analog called "furanyl-fentanyl" - a drug they say is already responsible for more deaths than heroin.

Authorities say this is the first major case involving furanyl-fentanyl, a compound considered up to 50 times more potent than heroin that can be bought more cheaply. Investigators say it's difficult to track dark-web purchases of the designer drug.

"Unlike fentanyl, this drug has no medical purpose and, according to some estimates, this drug has caused hundreds of deaths in the United States," says acting DA Gonzalez.

He says it was added to the federal list of controlled substances last year, but it's not an illegal drug in New York City. Gonzalez also said overdoses killed 1,350 people in New York City last year alone, which is nearly triple the homicide rate.

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