There's no question about the prevalence of heroin in society in recent years. Since the explosion of pill-addiction and pain medication abuse, it seems that heroin use has skyrocketed beyond any point in my cognizant life. The Hudson Valley is certainly no exception, with people from all walks of life falling victim to the abuse of the drug or, in some cases, the sale.

That's the situation facing several individuals in the Newburgh area, including the owner of the Newburgh Boxing Club, who are accused of trafficking heroin throughout the Hudson Valley.

According to Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, "Operation Punch-Out" was a 10-month-long investigation into the trafficking of narcotics, using wiretaps and other electronic surveillance. According to the DA's post on Facebook, several search warrants led officials to recover more than 56 grams of heroin, 28 grams of cocaine, $8,000 cash, a loaded .45 caliber Highpoint pistol and drug packaging materials. The law enforcement agencies made over 20 arrests.

Earl Melvin, 36, of Newburgh, also known as "Bugs," is accused of running a drug operation with at least twenty people working under him. He faces a litany of charges and allegedly made over $75,000 worth of deals between June 2015 and June 2016. Ray Rivera, 49, of Newburgh, the owner of the Newburgh Boxing Club, is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree for his alleged role in the drug ring, which the authorities say involved supplying drugs for others to sell.

“This narcotics investigation, ‘Operation Punch-Out,’ and the recent ‘Operation Chopper’ narcotics investigation, demonstrate the prevalence and sophistication of narcotics trafficking operations in Orange County,” District Attorney Hoovler said in the press release. “Heroin, and other narcotics, are destroying the fabric of our society and killing our residents, and must be fought at every level. ... It is particularly disappointing when it is discovered that respected community figures, who could have served as role models, succumb to the allure of quick narcotics profits."