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Smithtown Heroin Dealer Arrested In Major Drug Bust

Richard Balanda, 22, from Brooksite Drive one of 23 arrested in 1 million bag-a-year distribution ring.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota on Tuesday announced 23 arrests as part of a 16-month sting that dismantled one of Suffolk’s largest heroin rings, including a Smithown dealer based less than a mile from Hauppauge’s border.

Smithtown resident Richard Balanda, 29, of Brooksite Drive was among those arrested on charges of second-degree conspiracy for allegedly selling heroin to local residents as part of the drug ring, which spanned from Queens to Suffolk County.

Spota said the investigation was a joint effort between Suffolk County Police’s narcotic division and his office led to dismantling the ring,.

“For the 16-month investigation utilizing electronic surveillance, we believe that they were responsible for more than 1 million bags of heroin, worth approximately $10 to $11 million,” Spota said. Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Creighton said investigators believe he ring had been in operation since 2006.

The district attorney said police unveiled a “table top” heroin distribution organization lead by Joel Guzman, of Queens, and Carlos Melendez, of the Bronx, who operated a stash hose out of Corona, Queens for sale in Suffolk County. Bronx resident Frank Conte, 29, out on $1 million bond for a murder, was allegedly supplying raw uncut heroin, according to investigators. From the stash house, it was distributed to local dealers, including Balanda, for distribution.

“They were selling to high school kids, “ Spota said.

It was estimated about 15,000 bags of heroin per week were sold in Suffolk County during the investigation, marketed under name such as “Sweet Death,” “Starbucks,” and “Kneebender.”

Spota said wiretapped conversations between Balandra and Ricardo Rifino, of Sayville and then Bethpage, on Nov. 16, 2010 included a conversation in which one mentioned attending a funeral mass for teen who died of heroin overdose. In the conversation, Balandra allegedly asked who he was purchasing from, as it was not their organization, according to police.

A search warrant carried out on Rifino’s house during the investigation found 2,500 bags of heroin and $80,000 in cash stored in a shoe box.

“Heroin continues to eat away at the fabric of our communities, eating away at our young people and destroying families as well,” Spota said.

Balanda is awaiting arraignment in Central Islip courts.

Jeffrey Reynolds, Ph.D January 25, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Kudos to SCPD and SCDA for making this bust. If you or someone you know is addicted to heroin and open to getting some help, please call LICADD at 631-979-1700 or visit http://licadd.org.
marguerite zangrillo January 25, 2011 at 11:02 PM
God bless the police.
John Robertson January 25, 2011 at 11:26 PM
No Tolerance. Destroying communities, families, futures. This drug must be stopped. This sounds like a very happy story to me.
marie C January 26, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Good To Hear! Now lets see Prosecutions to the full extent of the law, followed by Convictions! These drugs are Killing our kids, literally!! Thank you to All our Police!!
Sara Walsh (Editor) January 26, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Marie, Despite the laws, what do you feel woud be the most appropriate punishment for those who are convicted?
bob January 26, 2011 at 02:17 AM
Great work guys .Great to get these scumbags off the street ...
david January 26, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Your kids use those drugs because their spoiled by their stuck up parents and dont have anything better to do.. What do you expect when these "Rich Long islander's" give their kids, everything. now you want to put the blame on someone else. Their parents do it too, dont blame the dealers blame the parents. If you care so much about your kids in Long Island learn some better parenting skills. I assure you those spoiled A@## will travel far and wide to get what they want. It wont stop here.
Michael D Marusevich January 26, 2011 at 02:43 PM
David, You got right to the point...My son is a teacher..and the kids are spoiled, drive BMW's...and thier parents get mad when the kid gets a C....they do not want to work and have no ambition...work a manual job like construction? no stay home and play games and drink and do drugs. Mike
marguerite zangrillo January 27, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Send your children to a trade school. When a pipe leaks, you have to have it fixed. When there is an electrical problem, it must be fixed. When the roof leaks or there is a serious structural problem, it must get immediate attention. Working with ones hands is an honorable job, and it's a job that can't be shipped overseas. I know many young children who have graduated college and can't find a job. The only thing they have to show for their four to six years of study is a college loan. That is very sad.
nikki January 27, 2011 at 11:51 PM
god bless the police is right, hopefully next we can say god bless the judge and jury ! to many of these drug dealers are let out of jail and are killing our kids, family and friends.
D February 01, 2011 at 07:18 PM
D SO HAPPY TO SEE A BUST LIKE THIS . BETTER LATE THEN NEVER. DONT STOP NOW. KEEP GOING AS THERE IS PLENTY OUT THERE AND WE NEED TO CLEAN UP LONG ISLAND GREAT JOB
Theresa Way February 04, 2011 at 03:29 PM
T I have a grandson who was hooked on drugs. He is now in a rehab house. He would get his drugs in Smithtown, he told me they have the biggest ring here. We do not come from as one put it a rich family as one person stated. (see David remark) I watched my grandson become a mean, lying, hurtful person. He would do any thing to get his drugs. I pray the police will clean up Smithtwon and the surronding towns. God Bless them.
S February 05, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Hey gang......Isn't this the reason we went to Afghanistan in the first place?????? Afghanistan..the land of the poppy....interesting !!!
s November 30, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Always love how people have such judgements: "its the parents', "spoiled rich kids", etc. Probably made by the same people who think blacks are dangerous, puerto ricans are lazy and irish are drunks. God bless the police for their action, God bless Jeff Reynolds for his efforts, God bless the addicted children who have lost their way and God bless the parents, like myself, who do the best they can and yet the devil has won despite it all. Someone mentioned troops in Afghanistan... may God bless those poor souls who will be coming home... addicted.
Amanda January 14, 2012 at 09:36 PM
i was raised in smithtown, it is not the parents fault, or even the childs fault for chosing to do drugs, the system is not set up to teach kids real life situations. it is very easy to get sucked into the drug lifestyle, and coming from a good family living in smithtown pretty well-off, you cannot rationalize that that is how all children are raised, my parents taugh me morals and how to work for a dollar, and my brother still wound up on drugs. it is the drug dealers fault partially BECAUSE THEY SHOULDNT BE SELLING DRUGS AND THEY KNOW IT! these little kids who are taking drugs are too young to realize what a terrible mistake it is and too naive to realize it could kill them. these sellers and grown adults
donna ramirez August 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM
My son Richie Ramirez who I love so very much became a victim of this horror drug heroine.the ones I blame are the drug dealer the drug runner anyone ordering or paying for this drug.they all know its a killer.I lost my son on January 10 2012. I feel that the drug dealer associated with a death should get life in jail no exceptions.his associates should do a tremendous amount of time.families are destroyed all for these drug dealers to make money. We should make a statement. Do this in our country and this is what you will receive a life of one of our children equals a drug dealers life in jail. With a picture of the life he took. Please. Prosecuters put these drug dealers away forever.our children are helpless with drug dealers willing to sell to them.
donna ramirez August 17, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I agree with Amanda it is the drug dealers fault.our children do not understand what they have gotten themselves into. By the time the parents realize what their child is into we are now putting our child into rehab after rehab with a prayer in between.we do not have enough rehabs or time in the rehabs to help our child.we first take our child to the hospital where they will only get tya week in hospital treatment. Then maybe thirty days in a rehab.while the drug dealer is making lots of money we are going crazy trying to undo the damage he has caused.I have lost my son Richie and believe me when I tell you their is no comfort or closure. I wait for the day that our prosecutors and judges wake up and send a message to these drug dealers a life for a life with pictures in their cells of the lives they have taken.
M. Fernanadez January 27, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Everyone wants to blame the Dealers mean while the real reason behind the problem is your weak minded kids that if they we're raised correctly would have enough sense in their heads to turn drugs down, im a 19 year old who attended Hauppauge High School, and the drug rate there is ridicoulous..its everywhere before school, during and after, i seriously cant count how many times pills,pot and other illigal drugs were offer to me during my 2 years there, I also attended Brentwood High School which has probably 5 times the amount of Students hauppauge do and never did i ever get offered any drugs other than pot.. Just that says a lot. In my opinion nobody is to blame for this but the weak minded kids buying and using the drug, and the ignorant parents who think by giving their kids dealership cars and buying them the most expensive clothes theyre raising them right, THAT is the real reason why your kids arent outliving your dog. So before blaming the dealers and pointing fingers maybe look at yourselves, burst that bubble you've been living in and open your eyes to whats really going on in this Corrupt and Sick country.
charles April 01, 2013 at 04:08 PM
wow.. only an addict can understand an addict..so heres the truth...it was my choice to pick up the drug but not my fault to be addicted..you can blame whoever you want but in the end no one put a gun to head and forced me to do it.. i was my own worst enemy..yes you can say the dealers play a major role and they all should pay the ultimate price for what they do.. the lowest user is the one who gets other people hooked.. i have a strong hatred towards these scumbags and if it was up to me i would wipe them off the face of this earth..thank god i hit my bottom and now im living the dream 40 days sober..none of these kids who still use can feel.. the drugs make you have false feelings..i pray for all the addicts out there and hope they can see life how i see it now..its a miracle im behind this computer right now spreading the message because by my track record i shouldnt be here.. but i wouldnt let this disease beat me.. no way in hell..you only end up in 3 places.. jails, institutions, or death.. and if your addict and you think you can still have a drink or smoke some weed you sir are retarded..setting yourself up to return to your drug of choice..stop hiding behind your feelings with drugs..all these kids walk around like there the shit and so hood..gtfo.the real tough guy is the one who can face life on lifes terms..thanks for letting me share haha

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