The reputed head of a coast-to-coast meth ring allegedly distributed the drugs out of illegal gaming parlors in Flushing, federal prosecutors announced on Thursday.
Anthony “Ant” Pineda, 36, of Flushing was among nine other Queens residents indicted for their alleged participation in the meth racket. According to U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, Pineda imported large quantities of meth from California to New York for distribution to large-scale peddlers and individual buyers.
Working with Pineda’s partners who operated the Flushing gaming houses, authorities said, the ring members sold the dangerous drugs to street dealers and individuals, and used violent tactics to collect debts owed to Pineda.
In one incident last year, law enforcement sources said, Pineda allegedly used a gun to threaten a rival gaming parlor and claimed to have a “high-voltage cattle prod” that he could use to collect a debt.
“Distributing on both a large scale and street level, Pineda and his co-defendants carelessly endangered our communities,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the New York field office said. “These individuals operated on opposite sides of the nation, but with the help of our fellow law enforcement agencies, today’s arrests show that expansiveness never inhibits justice.”
Law enforcement agents arrested Pineda on July 19 an the apartment where he was staying. Upon his arrest, authorities said, Pineda was found to have a pound of methamphetamine and $27,000 in cash in his possession.
Pineda was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, methamphetamine distribution and money laundering conspiracy. He faces as little as five years or as much as a life in prison if convicted of the charges against him.
Thirteen others — including eight Queens residents — were previously arrested and arraigned on four indictments unsealed in Brooklyn federal court in June, prosecutors said. Donoghue identified the Queens suspects as Yunfeng Gao, 33; Ivan Kaleda, 28; Ting Li, 30; Yuan Li, 34; Guanghua Shen, 45; Jin Wang, 33; Joung Hwa Yun, 40; and Lu Zhai.
Each were variously charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and methamphetamine distribution. As with Pineda, they face between five years to life imprisonment if found guilty.
“Drug dealers are trying to turn New York into the next methamphetamine wasteland,” Donoghue said. “The Eastern District will work tirelessly with our partners on long-term investigations such as this to prosecute those who poison our communities with this highly addictive and dangerous drug.”