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8 arrested in suspected drug, prostitution ring

August 13, 2012 2:49:09 PM PDT
A sophisticated crime ring is out of business.

Eight people are now under arrest in an operation that sold heroin and engaged in prostitution and Monday police showed off the loot and more.

The ring worked out of several areas in Suffolk County.

Prosecutors say Sandra Russell and her boyfriend Steven McDaniel were the brains behind the drug and prostitution ring, its nerve center in the Coram home which operated right under the neighbors' noses.

"It didn't look that way it just looked like a big family with friends and a lot of BBQs and hanging out," a neighbor said.

But that was before undercover agents broke the door down, busting Russell, whom they call the "heroin madam."

Prosecutors say she and McDaniel masterminded not one but two very lucrative businesses.

"She was making money on both ends. Both on drugs and on sex," Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said.

Spota says the group pulled in $35,000 a month peddling $10 doses of crack at public places like a convenience store parking lot and spent that cash on expensive Rolex watches and a diamond-encrusted "Long Island" necklace.

Then there were the girls.

McDaniel was arrested for an unrelated drug charge, and wrote Russell a letter from the Suffolk Jail; note the dollar signs for S's, telling Russell 10 ways to be a successful pimp.

"Always make them need and depend on you. So you have power over them. Power is control," Spota read.

"I hope that McDaniel and Russell will be treated by the court with as much compassion as they showed to these vulnerable drug addicted women," Spota said.

In all, a grand jury indicted eight people, not including at least four prostitutes, Spota says were paid in heroin to keep them under control, and fed, clothed and housed right in the Coram home.

Andrea LaBanca lives right next door.

"Am I mad? Absolutely. I have a 15-year-old daughter. I don't want her exposed to those things," LaBanca said.

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