Long Island has a drug problem; this is no longer in dispute. On July 14, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas charged 31 people in what she described as one of the largest drug busts in Nassau’s history. The bust was the result of a year-long investigation from by the Long Island law enforcement and the FBI’s Gang Task Force. Among the items seized in the bust were a kilo of cocaine, hundreds of grams of heroin, and a cache of assault weapons. While authorities suspect that the leader of being a resident of Uniondale, it’s hard to accept that this was ring formed in a local vacuum. Some of those arrested are reportedly from Upstate New York.
Perhaps one of the most jarring revelations of the bust was that many arrested sold these drugs right out of their house in Hempstead. Authorities estimate that more than 50 dealers and several larger operations have consolidated into one entity, which saw sales of about $3 million in the last four months alone. The community impact can be felt not just in Long Island, but throughout the state. Many of these transactions of drugs for money are taking place in plain view of children, according to authorities. They also said that at least one batch of heroin sold by the ring caused five people to overdose.
Substance abuse and addiction takes root via many circumstances, one of the more common of which include environment and community exposure. While it’s naïve to think that these problems can be solved overnight, and these conditions are hardly a new discovery for those living in Long Island, these busts further underscore the need for grassroots community prevention efforts. Enforcement of current drug laws must be supplemented by contextual education and alternatives, and this begins in the very communities that addiction impacts. With hundreds in Long Island, and many more throughout the state dying from overdoses each year, the need for an all-hands-on-deck approach has never been more urgent.