July 20, 2018 By Christian Murray
The leader of a coast-to-coast drug ring who ran it out of his gambling parlors in Flushing was arrested on charges related to methamphetamine distribution yesterday.
Anthony ‘Ant’ Pineda, 36, of Flushing, was one of 15 people arrested for participating in the gambling and drug racket, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Pineda would allegedly go to California and obtain large quantities of methamphetamine and bring it back to New York for wholesale and retail distribution.
His co-defendants included large-scale and street-level methamphetamine distributors, as well as partners in his illegal gambling operation, according to prosecutors.
Pineda protected his enterprise with threats of violence, according to United States Attorney Richard Donoghue. For instance, in 2017 he threatened a competing gambling parlor owner with a gun and referred to a ‘high voltage cattle prod’ that a co-conspirator 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 Sweeney of the New York field office said in a statement yesterday. “These individuals operated on opposite sides of the nation, but with the help of our fellow law enforcement agencies, today’s [Thursday’s] arrests show that expansiveness never inhibits justice.”
Pineda was arrested Thursday at an apartment—in an undisclosed location– where he was staying. The feds found 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 between five years and life in prison if convicted.
Fourteen others — including 12 from Queens— have also been arrested, prosecutors said.
“Drug dealers are trying to turn New York into the next methamphetamine wasteland,” Donoghue said in a statement. “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.”