2 arrested in raid of synthetic-drug operation in Long Island City

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LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens — Two people were arrested Tuesday as federal agents raided a suspected synthetic-drug operation at a high-rise in Long Island City, authorities said.

Brian Parker, 34, of Long Island City, and Victoria Koleski, 29, of New Jersey, face charges of conspiring to distribute, distributing and possessing with intent to distribute so-called designer drugs, including a synthetic opioid several times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey.

The alleged illicit operation on Center Boulevard in Long Island City was linked to the 2016 overdose death of a 37-year-old man in Madison, Wisc., investigators said. The man's autopsy revealed he'd died from the combined effects of U-47700 -- a synthetic opioid several times more potent than morphine -- and Benzodiazepine Analogue (Etizolam). In his home, were several mailed packages containing the drugs.

The fatal dose allegedly was ordered from a website that Parker ran, investigators said. Koleski is accused of helping Parker by allegedly shipping him raw material which he then turned into drugs and sold online.

Investigators allege that Koleski shipping about 218 packages from a post office on Long Island to Parker, with many of those parcels containing controlled substances.

Aerial footage of the raid Tuesday morning showed agents wearing full-body hazmat gear.

Each count against the defendants carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.