Law enforcement officials in New York City have dismantled a large drug trafficking operation, arresting eleven individuals accused of running a fentanyl and heroin packaging mill in the Bronx.
The raid, which took place in an apartment on the Grand Concourse near East 168th Street, led to the confiscation of hundreds of thousands of potentially lethal doses of narcotics, estimated to be worth $4 million.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) coordinated the takedown, with Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino stating, “Eleven members of a fentanyl/heroin trafficking ring were arrested as they fled the scene of a crime. They all ran from an active fentanyl mill filled with hundreds of thousands of deadly doses, but they couldn’t hide, not even under solar panels on the roof.”
Preceding the bust was a month-long surveillance operation that monitored various individuals transporting drug packaging equipment into the building.
The operation’s breakthrough occurred on Wednesday, November 1, when agents observed Aremedis Rivera, 41, and Juan Rivera, 44, entering the targeted premises.
Aremedis Rivera was later apprehended carrying bags which, upon a court-authorized search, were found to contain about 100,000 glassine envelopes filled with fentanyl and heroin, packaged into brick-shaped squares and concealed in magazine paper.
Shortly after his arrest, Heriberto Rivera, 43, and Luis Ledesma, 38, left the building. A resident’s urgent complaint about an attempted break-in accelerated the agents’ decision to raid the building, leading to the capture of John Reyes, 36, in the lobby.
The attempted escape of seven other suspects was thwarted when they were found on the roof, with some concealing themselves under solar panels.
Inside the apartment, agents found an overwhelming amount of drugs and paraphernalia, including bags of cutting agents, grinders, scales, and stamps for branding the drugs.
Loose powdered narcotics and glassine envelopes, some of which were being warmed in an oven—a technique used to hasten the drug packaging process—were scattered throughout.
The Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office for the City of New York has charged the eleven with multiple counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and the use of drug paraphernalia.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan pointed out the danger such operations pose to residents: “This investigation highlights potential dangers from a fentanyl/heroin packaging mill operating in a residential building. Not only is exposure to lethal drugs a risk to innocent residents when a half million small packages of lethal drugs are bagged in a neighboring apartment, but their security may be compromised as well.”