The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently busted a New York heroin dealer but not his wholesale suppliers in Brooklyn, according to charging documents filed October 22 in federal court for the Eastern District of New York. The case involves a beef between the Bloods and Latin Kings, shipments of pure cocaine imported from Panama, and a plot to rip off a stash house, but it offers little insight as to why the feds chose to target a suspect apparently at the lower end of the supply chain.
DEA special agent Stephen Chapman writes in court documents that the agency’s New York Joint Task Force began investigating 39-year-old Michael Maldonado on August 30, 2012. An unnamed “cooperating witness,” described by Chapman as a convicted cocaine dealer who agreed to wear a wire, arranged a series of heroin purchases with Maldonado and a woman named Nancy Gomez.
Maldonado is portrayed in court documents as a hardcore gangster with a taste for sadism. He is allegedly a member of the Latin Kings, and his lengthy rap sheet includes three previous convictions for drug-related felonies. At one point during the investigation, DEA agents eavesdropped as Maldonado offered to help if the informant ever needed somebody stabbed, casually mentioning that he “likes to stab people and hear their skin pop.” The DEA was also listening in when Maldonado discussed his strategy for stealing five kilos of drugs from a group of rival dealers, and on another occasion when Maldonado brought his young son along for the ride during an alleged heroin deal.
A typical deal with Maldonado allegedly went like this: The informant would meet him near his home at 269 Cherry Street in southeast Manhattan, then they’d travel together to 1469 Gates Avenue in Bushwick. They’d hand over a few thousand dollars to Gomez — Maldonado’s wife or girlfriend, according to court documents — she would leave and eventually return with heroin, typically an ounce or less. Initially, the informant was reluctant let Gomez walk away with the DEA’s money, but Maldonado offered assurance that “her family” was running the operation.
“That’s her family,” Maldonado allegedly said during one deal. “It’s not like we are dealing with somebody that’s not family.”
Maldonado referenced a man in Gomez’s family, saying, “He don’t let me get work for shit. Me and him always get into arguments. He always telling Nancy to leave me. That’s her son’s godfather.”
The informant also learned that Gomez’s “family” precautions regarding cell phones would fit neatly into an episode of The Wire. Maldonado would allegedly call to order heroin, then have to hang up and wait for a return call. According to court documents, “the individual who was taking the order for heroin receives the order by cell phone, then removes the battery from his/her and replaces the battery to call and say the heroin is ready.”
Although Maldonado mentioned having a source in Panama who mails packages of “pure cocaine” to false addresses in the U.S., court documents say he only dealt heroin in New York. He allegedly offered the informant detailed instructions for cutting the drug with a small of amount of Xanax, and mentioned that Gomez’s “family” deals with pure kilograms that can be heavily diluted or “stepped on” to double their value.
Next: The DEA could’ve gone further up the supply chain, and read the complaint in its entirety.