Tuesday, May 19, 2015

$50M Heroin Bust in Fieldston is Largest in NYC

Investigators announced the arrest of four
members of a narcotics trafficking network and the seizure of over 70 kilograms
of heroin (154 lbs.) worth up to $50 million, plus $2 million in cash and a

The massive load of narcotics and cash was
recovered from a vehicle and an apartment in the Fieldston section of the
Bronx, near Horace Mann School and adjacent to Van Cortlandt Park. This is the
largest heroin seizure in New York State in DEA history and the fourth largest
heroin seizure in the U.S. It was the result of a yearlong investigation by the
Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the DEA’s New York Drug
Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF), Group T-31, which is comprised of DEA special
agents, New York City Police Department (NYPD) detectives and New York State
Police Investigators, and the ICE HSI-led El Dorado Task Force. The Yonkers
Police Department and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey also

On Sunday, May 17, agents arrested the head of
the multi-million dollar heroin organization, Jose A. Mercedes, aka “Hippie,”
and a second defendant, Yenci Cruz Francisco. Both are charged with Operating
as a Major Trafficker and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the
First Degree. Two additional defendants were arrested in November.

A court authorized wiretap investigation
revealed that Mercedes and his drug trafficking group received sizable
shipments of heroin at least once a month from suppliers in Culican, Mexico, an
area controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel. The organization is believed to have
served as a main source of heroin for customers throughout the five boroughs,
as well as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

In the days leading up to the seizure and arrests,
intercepted phone conversations suggested the organization was expecting
delivery of a large load of heroin 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. Late Saturday, agents tracked a
Chevrolet Suburban and a Honda Accord driven by Mercedes, Cruz Francisco and a
third individual as they travelled from 210 West 251st St. to an industrial
parking lot off of Interstate 287 in Montville, N.J. The vehicles entered a
section of the industrial lot where tractor-trailers were parked. After more
than an hour, the Chevrolet Suburban and Honda Accord headed back to the Bronx.

Upon reaching 210 West 251st St., the Chevrolet Suburban was parked in a gated
parking lot behind the building. At the request of the NYDETF, the Yonkers
Police Department dispatched a K-9 Unit and obtained a positive hit for
narcotics on the Chevrolet Suburban. Agents maintained surveillance at the

On Sunday morning, agents observed Mercedes
arrive in a Kia Sorrento and stopped him for questioning. Several large bags
containing a tan powdery substance were recovered from the front seat of the
car and from a hidden compartment in the center console. At least one of the
bags tested positive for heroin.

Subsequently, agents observed Cruz Francisco
leave 210 West 251st St., enter the Chevrolet Suburban and start the engine.
Agents stopped him and obtained a court authorized search warrant for 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 210 West 251st St.,
Apt. 5E, agents recovered $2 million from underneath the floorboards. A search
of 830 Magenta St., Apt. 2J, in the Bronx yielded a .380 caliber firearm.

Last night Jose A. Mercedes and Cruz Francisco
were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court and held without bail, with their
next court date set for Friday, May 22.

Two additional members of the narcotics
trafficking group were previously charged on November 17, 2014. Mercedes’ son
Jose Mercedes, JR. and defendant Juan Infante were arrested at 2851 Webb Ave.,
Apt. 1D, in the Bronx, where members of the NYDETF and HSI seized another 10
kilograms of heroin (22 lbs.) that had been hidden in a compartment inside a
wall. An indictment filed by the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office charges
both with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree,
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and two
counts each of Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree.

Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan
thanked her office’s Special Investigations Bureau, the DEA’s New York Drug
Enforcement Task Force, the ICE HSI-led El Dorado Task Force, the Yonkers
Police Department and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, “Seventy kilograms of heroin
was intended to be distributed throughout the Northeast, proving that NYC is
the bull's eye for drug traffickers and heroin is their weapon. Record breaking
aside, this investigation and seizure are messages to our communities that DEA
and our law enforcement partners are doing our part in fighting opioid
addiction that is afflicting our nation, by seizing the heroin that drug
traffickers are pushing into our city."

Bridget G. Brennan said, “The $50 million street value of the heroin in this
case is a conservative estimate. 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. 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.”

“These millions of doses of heroin and millions of dollars represent much more
than just a seizure. They represent violence, overdoses, crime, death and the
suffering of our communities,” said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., Special Agent in
Charge of HSI New York. “HSI and our federal, state and local law enforcement
partners are determined to put an end to the heroin epidemic plaguing our

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said, “I
want to thank the investigators of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force and
the prosecutors of the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor whose work
resulted in this significant heroin seizure.  The NYPD will continue to
collaborate with our law enforcement partners to stop this dangerous and highly
addictive drug from being sold in our neighborhoods and destroying lives.”

"This case will have a significant impact on the drug trade in New York
State and throughout the Northeast, by keeping this large load of heroin out of
our communities," said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A.
D'Amico. "The State Police remain committed to working with our partners
in law enforcement and using every resource available to shut these drug
operations down. We continue to send a clear message to those dealing these
dangerous and deadly drugs -- you will be found, you will be prosecuted and you
will go to prison."


#Heroin #DEA #Fieldston #NYPD #Bronxnews

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