Shell Casings, Guns, and Drugs: How ATF and the NYPD Unraveled a New York Drug Ring

By: Dillon McConnell

Photo of Adony Nina
Photo of Adony Nina wearing a blue tee-shirt and a black jacket. There is text laid over the photo that reads convicted.
In January of 2012, Adony “D” Nina rang in the New Year by firing off a few celebratory shots from a gun.  Little did he know then, that ill-advised act would ultimately lead to him spending the rest of his life behind bars.

After witnessing him fire the gun, New York Police Department (NYPD) officers apprehended and arrested Nina. At the time of his arrest, Nina was a previously convicted felon who was federally prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition and had a lengthy criminal history. Although the firearm was not found, law enforcement recovered shell casings from the scene, allowing them to charge Nina and contact ATF for assistance with the investigation.

On April 4, 2012, Nina was indicted on “felon in possession of ammunition” charges by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. But as ATF and NYPD detectives began to dive deeper into the case, the investigation grew in scope.

As investigators would discover, Nina was a violent drug trafficker, and he and his associates, including his partner Candido “Dido” Antomattei and Catherine “Cathy” Morales, sold numerous kilograms of crack cocaine and heroin near the Hunts Point section of the Bronx from 2008–2012.  At Nina and Antomattei’s direction, their dealers sold drugs 24/7 wreaking havoc in the neighborhoods where they operated.  Hijacking street corners, sidewalks, building lobbies, and other public areas to conduct their criminal activity, Nina relied on the consistent use of violence to control the community and his territory.

Photo of Catherine "Cathy" Morales
Photograph of Catherine "Cathy" Morales in a pink hooded sweatshirt. There is red text laid over her photo that reads Convicted.

Cathy Morales ran an extensive heroin enterprise as part of Nina and Antomattei’s operation, and when Bobby Morales began selling drugs on her turf in the summer of 2011, she quickly turned to Nina for guidance.  Nina’s solution, as usual, was violence.  He supplied Cathy with a loaded gun and at his direction, Cathy Morales fired three shots at Bobby’s two sisters and girlfriend.  One shot struck Bobby’s sister, Aisha Morales, in the head, killing her.

Cathy Morales fled the scene and was a fugitive for two years before she was captured by ATF and U.S. Marshals in Philadelphia.  She was sentenced to 45 years in prison for her involvement in the Morales murder. On July 16, 2014, Candido Antomattei was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and for brandishing a firearm in relation to a drug offense. On March 22, 2016, Judge Sullivan sentenced Adony Nina to two life sentences plus 10 years for the murder of Aisha Morales, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and firearms charges. Both Nina and Cathy Morales were ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution to the family of Aisha Morales.

This case exemplifies how through inter-agency cooperation and partnership, a single arrest for a seemingly simple crime can grow into the successful takedown of a ring of violent criminals.

“Through the investigative efforts of our Joint Firearms Task Force, ATF and our partners have significantly improved the quality of life for the citizens of the Bronx affected by this violent organization,” said ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Delano Reid of the New York Field Division. “Hopefully, the family of Aisha Morales may come to find some solace in the fact that those responsible for her murder will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.”

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Last Reviewed September 22, 2016