Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt of the DEA, New York Division; Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez; New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill; New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach and Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in New York City Angel M. Melendez today announced that three men have been arrested in connection with the seizure of more than 250 pounds of psychedelic mushrooms and over $30,000 in cash during the execution of search warrants at two locations in Sheepshead Bay.
“Man-made drugs are our worst enemy these days. Those using synthetic cannabinoids, Carfentanil, U-47700, or psychedelic mushrooms are playing Russian roulette. I commend the partnership at the DEA Strike Force that led to these arrests and seizure,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Hunt.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This investigation exposed and dismantled a massive psychedelic mushroom grow house, keeping hundreds of pounds of this illegal and dangerous drug off the streets. I would like to thank all of the partners of the DEA Strike Force for their commitment to keeping our communities safe.”
“The valuable partnerships developed through the Strike Force were instrumental in these arrests and the large seizure of drugs. We will not tolerate this kind of activity in our communities,” said Police Superintendent Beach. “I want to thank our partners for their hard work on this case.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendants as Vitali Yaromin, 50, of East 13th Street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; Nikita Medvedev, 26, of Staten Island; and Maksym Lyushnenko, 47, of East 11th Street in Sheepshead Bay. They are presently awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges of second- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminally using drug paraphernalia. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison on the top count.
ICE HSI Special Agent Melendez said, “These individuals grew mind-altering mushrooms right in our own backyard of Brooklyn. At a few hundred dollars an ounce, this was no small business. But they were hallucinating on their own product if they had thought they could hide from the law. HSI’s joint law enforcement effort within the DEA’s Strike Force unit demonstrates our commitment to track this type of criminal activity and lock up the perpetrators.”
According to the Acting District Attorney, Detective Investigators from the District Attorney’s office and members of the New York City Police Department executed search warrants at two locations in Sheepshead Bay, following a joint investigation with the DEA Strike Force.
At the first location, a private house on East 13th Street in Sheepshead Bay, detectives seized more than 200 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms a.k.a. psychedelic mushrooms, more than $30,000 in cash, more than 300 gift cards, one ounce of marijuana, and bank records.
At the second location, a private house on East 11th Street in Sheepshead Bay, more than 50 pounds of psychedelic mushrooms, $400 cash and a 2007 Lexus 350 SUV were seized.
The DEA New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gillian DiPietro, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Alfred De Ingeniis, First Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.