Narcotics cops in the Bronx confiscated more than 70 kilograms of heroin, valued at more than $50 million in a record-breaking bust that netted $2 million in cash and a firearm.
“To put it in perspective, this load was so large it carried the potential of supplying a dose of heroin to every man, woman and child in New York City,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan.
Authorities said the mammoth stash, tucked away in the bowels of a large SUV, was just one in a series of shipments slated for delivery throughout the five boroughs, as well as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
This particularly shipment — a massive load of narcotics and cash — was recovered from a vehicle and an apartment in the Fieldston section of the Bronx, not far from Horace Mann School, where children sit in class every day, and adjacent to Van Cortlandt Park, where families are just beginning to enjoy the warm weather.
Arrested were Jose Mercedes, aka “Hippie,” who was described as the head of the multi-million organization. Also arrested was Yenci Cruz Francisco. They are charged with operating as a major trafficker and first-degree criminal Possession of a controlled substance.
They were both arrested Sunday, and arraigned Monday night in Manhattan Criminal Court, and held without bail. Two additional defendants were arrested in November.
“The $50 million street value of the heroin in this case is a conservative estimate,” said Brennan of the record-breaking seizure. “While this important seizure stopped a huge amount of heroin from flooding our city, it also highlights the critical need to intercept heroin before it ever reaches our region.”
“New York City is the bull’s eye for drug traffickers and heroin is their weapon,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt
Investigators used wiretaps to learn that a local drug trafficking crew was receiving sizable shipments of heroin at least once a month from suppliers in Culican, Mexico, an area controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel.
Last week, cops intercepted phone conversations about a large load of heroin that was expected to be delivered over the weekend.
Agents set up surveillance outside 210 West 251st St. in Fieldston, where the organization was suspected of maintaining a stash location in Apt. 5E.
A day before the arrests, agents tracked a Chevrolet Suburban and a Honda Accord driven by Mercedes, Cruz Francisco and a third crew member from the Bronx site to a parking lot in Montville, NJ, where tractor-trailers were parked.
More than an hour later, the vehicles headed back to the Bronx. The next morning, cops stopped Mercedes as he tried to pull away in the SUV, and searched the vehicle.
A hidden compartment under the floor of the vehicle contained 70 rectangular-shaped kilogram packages of heroin labeled with the identifying name of “Rolex.” Also inside the vehicle was $24,000 cash.
Agents conducted a series of court authorized searches at apartments associated with the group. Inside the West 251st Street apartment, agents recovered $2 million from underneath the floorboards.
A search at a Magenta Street apartment in the Bronx yielded a .380 caliber firearm.