A drug ring’s bad habit

A drug ring’s bad habit
BY HUGH SON
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, June 16th, 2004

The alleged leader of a Brooklyn drug ring relied on a Santeria priestess to tell him what the future held – but the spiritual adviser could not predict they were all about to be busted.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced the indictments yesterday of 15 accused members of the cocaine and crack delivery outfit, including seer Mercedes Osario.

The head of the drug ring, Tracy Ortiz – a Latin King warlord known as King Tracy – regularly consulted Osario about decisions involving his illicit business, law enforcement sources said.

Osario is a Santeria, a spiritual guide in the Afro-Cuban belief system, who threw shells like dice to gaze into the future, according to Deana Rodriguez, chief of the district attorney’s gang bureau.

“She’s not a very good Santeria, is she? They’re all in jail!” Rodriguez quipped.

Authorities said Osario also stashed guns used by the drug ring in her Park Slope home. When cops found a lockbox containing weapons at her residence, she told cops she did not know what was inside – but sensed it held “something evil,” sources said.

Hynes called the delivery service a “highly sophisticated operation” that took in nearly $1 million a year and used a fleet of eight cars to deliver drugs from apartments in Bay Ridge and Park Slope to the doorsteps of about 100 regular users, mostly in Brooklyn.

The ring also peddled heroin, Ecstasy and marijuana, authorities said.

Ortiz, 27, and his brother Richard, 25, face 25 years to life for criminal possession of a controlled substance. Osario, 53, was indicted on misdemeanor criminal weapons possession charges.

Users aren’t getting off the hook, either, Hynes warned.

Ten alleged customers of the drug ring already have been arrested – including a medical professional, an upscale Manhattan department store employee and a “little old lady.”

Though addicts will be offered drug treatment, Hynes said recreational users would face up to six months in the slammer.

“This is a message to people who think it’s cute to buy drugs on the weekend and go to their summer homes to shoot up and to snort up,” he said.

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