Long Beach police arrested a Queens man and local healthcare employee last week, after he allegedly used the names of unsuspecting elderly patients to have marijuana delivered to his job.
Police arrested Michael Gonzalez, of Howard Beach, on Wednesday, April 10, and charged him with first-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a class C felony, when they seized 15 pounds of marijuana discovered at a local healthcare facility where Gonzalez works. The arrest was the result of a joint undercover operation between the Long Beach Police Department’s Detective Division and U.S. postal inspectors.
According to police, the case involved large shipments of marijuana that were sent to patients at a local health care facility, which the department did not disclose. The patients were completely unaware that their names were being used to have the packages delivered. When the packages arrived, Gonzalez, an employee of the facility, allegedly retrieved them and hid the packages in a storage area. Detectives were able to recover approximately 15 pounds of marijuana.
Gonzalez was arraigned at Long Beach City Court on April 10. Police did not say where Gonzalez had purchased the marijuana or if he was selling the drug, and said that the investigation is ongoing.
“This type of scheme is common throughout the country,” said Det. Lt. Stefan Chernaski, commanding officer of the Detective Division, who supervised the operation. “The marijuana is wrapped in a certain way in an attempt to avoid detection, and the listed addressee is usually completely unaware that a package was shipped in their name. This particular case was more egregious because a health care facility and two unsuspecting elderly people were used.”
According to police, the staff and management of the facility cooperated with investigators and sought to maintain the protection of its patients.
“Often these types of cases emerge quickly and there is a very brief window in which to act,” said Police Commissioner Mike Tangney. “Our detectives, including the Narcotics Task Force, mobilized quickly to work with the postal inspectors. They put together a somewhat complex undercover investigation very quickly and recovered about 15 pounds of marijuana and made the arrest. It was top-notch police work.”