Talk about finding a prize in your cereal box.
A family-run drug ring in Williamsburg allegedly had its runners hide heroin packets in boxes of Apple Jacks, according to Brooklyn’s top lawman.
“It may look innocent, but what was contained in those Apple Jacks boxes was deadly,” said District Attorney Ken Thompson at a press conference on Sept. 17, where he served up a crisp, 368-count indictment against 25 people accused of a multi-million-dollar, mom-and-pop drug-distribution scheme he says they operated out of their Williamsburg apartment.
“I think it’s extraordinary that a mother and her grown children would come together to spread poison on the streets of our city,” said Thompson of the family of flakes he accuses of peddling sugar smack.
Josie Tavera allegedly served as the Cap’n Crunch of the dope ring, which he operated out of his family’s Driggs Avenue apartment between S. Third and S. Fourth streets, according to Thompson.
Tavera was supposedly aided in his Trix by sister Sheila Taveras, who allegedly packaged, delivered, and distributed the drugs, and his older brother Jose Tavera, who allegedly supplied the unlucky charms, Thompson said.
Even Tavera’s mother was involved, according to Thompson, and was arrested for allegedly laundering the family’s dirty Kashi by regularly depositing thousands of dollars in a checking account she opened at a Chase branch only a few blocks from the family home, raisin’ alarms with the authorities.
The Tavera family and their accomplices allegedly sold 25,000 glassine bags of heroin wholesale every month, worth a Total of about $250,000 on the street, according to Thompson.
The drugs were sold under a variety pack of brand names, including “Knockout,” “Takeover,” “Power Hour,” “Killing Time,” and “Pure.” One bran-d called “Scorpion” even caused potentially life-threatening side-effects in junkies getting their Kix — including severe swelling around the throat and face, according to the district attorney.
Two Staten Island men — Michael Mineo and Jason Collazo — were also busted for their alleged involvement in the conspiracy.
Mineo attended classes at the College of Staten Island, where he studied substance abuse, and worked as a drug councilor, during which time he was allegedly involved in selling Tavera’s dope, according to Thompson.
“Just think of the damage he could have caused selling heroin to those recovering drug addicts he was supposed to help,” Thompson said.
Callazo served as a community service supervisor in the Midtown Manhattan Community Court, where he allegedly used the court’s phone to purchase drugs from Tavera and coordinate distribution to individuals in Brooklyn and Staten Island.
But Callazo’s lawyer Peter Gaudagnino contends that his client is innocent of all charges, and that any conversations he might have had with suspected drug dealers have been puffed up by prosecutors.
“My client’s innocent,” said Gaudagnino. “Just because you have acquaintances you talk to, that doesn’t mean he’s guilty.”
The other defendants’ lawyers either didn’t return calls or declined to comment.