Two dozen indicted in Orange County drug crackdown


Earl Melvin – accused director
Full list of suspects
Images of all suspects

GOSHEN – An Orange County grand jury has indicted 24 defendants in connection with the “Operation Punch-Out” enforcement action in the City of Newburgh on June 7. They are all charged with felonies related to a conspiracy to distribute heroin in the City of Newburgh and surrounding areas.
District Attorney David Hoovler said law enforcement will keep the heat on the illegal drug trade starting at the top of the organizations and working all the way down to the street level.
“The policy behind the strategy is basically a harm reduction model where we target those who are the most significant traffickers or dealers who are affecting the most people,” Hoovler said.
This 68-count indictment alleges that Earl Melvin, 36, also known as “Bugs, of Newburgh, was the director of a controlled substance organization that distributed heroin in eastern Orange County from at least June 7, 2015 through June 7, 2016, and that the proceeds of those sales totaled at least $75,000.  The indictment charges Melvin with felonies of operating as a major trafficker, criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy and other charges.
The indictment alleges he had at least 20 people working under him, including two alleged co-conspirators: Ray Rivera and Angel Rodriguez who allegedly supplied heroin for the others to sell.
Rivera, 49, of Newburgh, the owner of the Newburgh Boxing Club, is charged with conspiracy and two counts of criminal possession of drugs. He sold drugs to the street level distributors, the indictment alleges.
Rodriguez, 41, of the Bronx, was charged with conspiracy.
Hoovler had requested that the grand jury be empanelled to handle two major narcotics investigations.
“This narcotics investigation, ‘Operation Punch-Out,’ and the recent ‘Operation Chopper’ narcotics investigation, demonstrate the prevalence and sophistication of narcotics trafficking operations in Orange County,” said Hoovler. “These organizations can only be disrupted through the use of electronic surveillance, used in the context of long-term, multi-agency investigations. Heroin, and other narcotics, are destroying the fabric of our society and killing our residents, and must be fought at every level. It is no surprise that firearms were recovered during the course of both of these operations, since narcotics trafficking frequently leads to violence. It is particularly disappointing when it is discovered that respected community figures, who could have served as role models, succumb to the allure of quick narcotics profits. Organized criminal activity, specially that involving illegal weapons, presents the public and law enforcement with additional challenges and concerns, and it simply cannot be tolerated. My office will continue to use every tool at our disposal, including the use of wiretaps, civil forfeiture actions, and criminal statutes that have never been charged before in Orange County, to combat the illicit narcotics trade and all types of organized criminal activity.”