BY ROBERT E. KESSLER
December 6, 2005, 10:00 PM EST
A drug organization calling itself the Cartoon Network delivered high-grade marijuana to the doors of affluent clients in New York City and Long Island who identified themselves on the phone with the code-word "cartoon," according to court documents.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested more than a dozen members of the 20-person network in the past week, according to sources familiar with the case.
Customers paid $100 for 2 grams of the drug, which was packed in plastic vials to contain the odor. The vials were recently embossed with "Merry Christmas," the sources said.
"It is the best," one source said of the quality of drug-ring's marijuana. "They called regular marijuana 'Grandma.' "
More than 80 agents were involved in the raids. Drug Enforcement Administration agents have seized computers containing the records of 50,000 phone calls in the past six months. The network's members meticulously kept track of their clients, their orders, and the delivery locations, according to court records.
The network has been in operation since 1999 and is one of at least four in the metropolitan area that have been under investigation for "door-to-door" home delivery of marijuana.
The multimillion-dollar organization bragged over federal wiretaps that its clientele included professional athletes, entertainment figures and other high-profile professionals, according to sources familiar with the case.
The sources were reluctant to identify the high-profile clients named on wiretaps because they are not sure that some of them might have been mentioned just as a way of boasting.
But a team of federal agents has been going over the actual telephoned orders seized during the recent arrests to determine who were the actual customers, the sources said.
The reputed head of the network, John Nebel, 33, who has homes in Rosedale and Bay Shore, was arraigned Monday in federal District Court in Central Islip on charges of distributing large quantities of drugs.
He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 10 years in prison and as much as life, according to federal sentence guidelines.
Nebel and a dozen alleged members of the network who have been arrested in the past week have been held without bail after arraignment before federal Magistrate Arlene Lindsay.
Nebel's attorney, Douglas Burns of Garden City, declined to comment yesterday. Federal officials also declined to comment on the case.
The Cartoon Network was a highly structured operation, with a network of suppliers, managers and couriers, according to court records.
The managers operated a daily call center, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., in which customers would identify themselves using the code-word 'cartoon.'" The location of the call center shifted weekly among rooms in Long Island and in New York hotels.