Accused Drug Trafficker Indicted in Connection with 40 Pounds of Fentanyl Recovered from Bronx Hotel
Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Division, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II and Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark announced the indictment of defendant CARLOS RAMIREZ in connection with the seizure of 18 kilograms (nearly 40 pounds) of fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, from a vehicle and a hotel in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx.
An indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York charges RAMIREZ, 25, a resident of Colorado, with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Third Degrees. An arraignment for RAMIREZ took place today before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gilbert C. Hong, Part 22, 111 Centre Street, 9th floor. Bail was set at $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash.
RAMIREZ was arrested on June 19, 2017 as a result of an investigation into narcotics trafficking in the New York City metropolitan area by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, Financial Investigations Team (FIT).
At approximately 11:40 p.m. on that date members of the Financial Investigations Team (FIT) were conducting surveillance in the vicinity of Elton Avenue and East 154th Street in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx when they observed RAMIREZ open the rear passenger door of a car and place a cylindrical package wrapped in black tape inside on the floor of that car. Agents and officers approached RAMIREZ, who informed them he had come from a hotel across the street and provided the room number 708.
Agents and officers then entered the Umbrella Hotel, located at 681 Elton Avenue, and went up to the 7th floor. As they approached room 708, agents and officers noticed a black duffel bag sitting on top of a vending machine. Upon closer examination, they saw the bag contained 17 packages, most of which were taped in the same manner as the package recovered from the car. The wrapping on one package was punctured and officers could see a tan powdery substance resembling heroin inside. Members of the Financial Investigations Team (FIT) seized the bag with the 17 packages and submitted them for laboratory testing.
DEA laboratory tests determined the narcotics inside the packages were not heroin, but rather fentanyl. Also contained in the substance was 4-anilino-N-phenethyl-4-piperidine (ANPP), which is a precursor chemical used in the production of fentanyl. ANPP is separately defined as a controlled substance under the New York State Penal Law and Public Health Law.
This is the largest seizure of fentanyl to date by DEA New York Division. A dangerously strong synthetic opioid, fentanyl is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin and is increasingly found mixed into the illicit narcotics supply in New York City. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, fentanyl is driving a spike in fatal overdoses, which reached an all-time high of 1,374 deaths in New York City in 2016 – a 46% increase over 2015.
Given that a dose of fentanyl weighing two to three milligrams can be deadly, the seizure in this case could have yielded over seven million lethal doses. Fentanyl is commonly mixed with heroin before being sold at the street-level. Fentanyl is also sold in combination with cocaine or pressed into counterfeit pills and as sold as oxycodone or Xanax.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan thanked her office’s Special Investigations Bureau (SIB), Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and all of the participants in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force.
The New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, Financial Investigations Team (FIT), is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative and part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said, “The potential for widespread loss of life was averted only through the investigative skill and fortunate timing of law enforcement officers. They seized forty pounds of deadly fentanyl, casually tossed on top of a vending machine in a Bronx hotel hallway, the largest single recovery of fentanyl by the DEA in New York. I thank our partners, including the DEA, the NYPD and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their relentless pursuit of narcotics traffickers spreading death and destroying lives throughout New York City and the Northeastern United States.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, “It is a fact, opioid traffickers are mixing heroin with fentanyl because it is more potent and more profitable. In turn, heroin users are putting their lives in drug dealers’ hands every time they buy a bag. A fatal dose of fentanyl is only two to three milligrams - the size of two to three grains of salt. Dealers are not chemists and law enforcement is diligently tracking them down to get fentanyl, heroin and diverted prescription medication off the streets.”
“The interdiction of this fentanyl headed for our streets is nothing short of extraordinary," said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. “This poison could have resulted in up to 7 million overdoses. Today, our City is safer due to the diligence of the detectives, agents, and prosecutors whose work resulted in this seizure and today's indictment."
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "The relentless work of the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, and the collaborative efforts of law enforcement partners at all levels, has resulted in one of their largest seizures of fentanyl to date and the removal of another dangerous criminal who threatened the safety and security of our neighborhoods. I commend the team’s dedication to preventing the distribution of these illegal and highly addictive drugs in our communities. Together, we will continue to aggressively target and eliminate these operations and those who seek to destroy the quality of life within our communities.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “Such a large seizure of fentanyl is alarming, and thankfully it was intercepted before it could kill someone in our city. With our law enforcement partners, we will continue our proactive offensive against the traffickers of this poison that fuels fatal drug overdoses and endangers police officers and federal agents who come in contact with it.”
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Download Press Release
Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office
New York City Police Department
DEA New York Division