East Harlem Gang Probe: 17 Arrests and Guns Seized
NYC Department of Correction Auditor Arrested for Cocaine Sales
NYC Firefighter Sold Drugs at Firehouse
Man Returning from Music Festival Arrested with Drugs
Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Seized in Harlem
Brooklyn Crack Dealer’s Plan to Sell Fireworks Fizzles
Heroin Investigation Leads to Weapons Seizure
Over 15 Pounds of Fentanyl Seized on the Upper West Side

Record-Breaking Heroin Packaging Operation Dismantled
Truck Axle and Drive Shaft Filled with 100 Pounds of Heroin
Fentanyl Marketed as Heroin in Queens Drug Sale
Over 65 Pounds of Heroin in Croton-on-Hudson
$5 Million in Heroin Seized at Inwood Drug Packaging Spot
Father and Son Ran Rx Drug Forgery Ring
Rx Forgeries Yielded $3 Million in Pain Pills
Ex-Physician Sold Pills to Patients after Losing License
Colombian Traffickers Extradited to NYC: Spanish Navy Ship Smuggled Narcotics
Narcotics Mailed to NYC from Puerto Rico
Money Launderers for Sinaloa Cartel Arrested
Cocaine Concealed in 100 Fake Yuccas
Bronx Daycare Served as Cover for Drug Ring
Drug Delivery in Livery Cars
Sin City Cabaret Cocaine Sales
Staten Island Gang Shooting, Heroin Trafficking
Open Air Drug Market Disrupted in Washington Heights

 

 

 

East Harlem Gang Probe: 17 Arrests and Guns Seized

A long-term investigation into round-the-clock narcotics trafficking at the AK Houses, a privately-owned affordable housing complex in East Harlem, led to 17 arrests. Many of the individuals charged are associated with a gang known as “No Sleep Get Money” or “N$GM.” The NYPD initiated the investigation, dubbed “Operation Insomnia,” in response to community complaints about drug dealing and a rash of gang-related shootings at the AK Houses. Brazen drug traffickers met with customers in the lobbies, hallways and stairwells of AK Houses, as well as in front of the residential complex, in close proximity to three schools. The defendants sold crack-cocaine to undercover officers on approximately 20 occasions. During a search of one defendant’s apartment in the AK Houses police recovered two guns from a dresser drawer in a bedroom where a one-year-old child was present.

Malloy money

A defendant involved in selling crack-cocaine flashes his ill-gotten gains.

NYC Department of Correction Auditor Arrested for Cocaine Sales

An auditor for the City of New York Department of Correction was among three defendants charged in connection with cocaine sales to an undercover officer in Brooklyn. Auditor Ronald Germain allegedly orchestrated four sales of cocaine for $5,250 to an undercover from the NYPD’s Narcotics Borough Brooklyn North in December 2015. Germain showed the undercover his official parking plaque and explained that he worked for DOC. Three of the four sales took place inside Germain’s East Flatbush apartment, which he shared with his girlfriend and the couple’s three children, who were present during drug transactions. Police also recovered $4,000 cash, a quantity of cocaine and drug paraphernalia during a court authorized search.

NYC Firefighter Sold Drugs at Firehouse

An eight-year veteran of the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) was arrested for selling narcotics in front of Engine 279/Ladder 131 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and at a nearby gas station. Firefighter Daniel Torres sold Vicodin, an opioid prescription painkiller, and Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, during the wiretap investigation, conducted by the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force. Torres also provided a sample of heroin to a customer. Sales took place in close proximity to a daycare center near the firehouse and a private high school on the same block as the gas station. Torres was reassigned to the FDNY Recruitment Unit prior to his arrest.

FDNY

Man Returning from Music Festival Arrested with Drugs

A man driving back from the Movement Detroit Music Festival was arrested in the Inwood section of Manhattan while in possession of a cornucopia of drugs. DEA agents stopped the 2011 Toyota Sienna and found seven people inside, along with cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, pills, needles, an electronic scale and other paraphernalia. The drugs were found inside a black bag with a “Rebel Effect” logo, which was in turn hidden in a secret “trap” compartment in the car. Another 50 bags with the same logo, which is associated with a New York City smoke shop, were also found in the car.

Music festival drugs

A bag containing a plethora of drugs was found in the secret “trap” compartment of the car.

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Seized in Harlem

Two men were arrested in possession of five pounds of hallucinogenic mushrooms in a car in Harlem. The mushrooms were inside plastic bags in the backseat of the vehicle. One of the men had previously sold nearly a pound of mushrooms to undercover NYPD officers over the course of four transactions for a total of $1,700. He and his partner were poised to make yet another sale to an undercover officer on the day they were arrested with the five pounds of drugs in their vehicle.

Mushrooms

Five pounds of mushrooms were recovered.

Brooklyn Crack Dealer’s Plan to Sell Fireworks Fizzles

A Brooklyn man was in the process of selling professional grade fireworks at his Bushwick apartment when police arrived to conduct a court authorized search related to his other illegal line of work – drug dealing. Police recovered $2,000 worth of fireworks, along with crack cocaine, $3,000 cash and a loaded Glock .45-caliber pistol. An investigation revealed that the man had recently rented a van to make a bulk purchase of fireworks in Pennsylvania for resale in New York City. The plan was disrupted one month before the Fourth of July. The Brooklyn man previously sold $350 in fireworks to an undercover NYPD officer and at least $6,600 in cocaine. He pled guilty to drug possession and gun charges in exchange for a sentence of eight years in prison.

Fireworks

A cache of weapons was found in the same room as a six-year-old child.

Heroin Investigation Leads to Weapons Seizure

An undercover NYPD investigation into heroin trafficking led police to recover two crossbows, two large knives, a collapsing knife, an air gun and oxycodone pills from a residence in the Wingate section of Brooklyn in July. A defendant who made three sales of heroin to an undercover officer was arrested. During the court authorized search, police found the defendant’s six-year-old daughter in the same room as the weapons. The defendant pled guilty to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Over 15 Pounds of Fentanyl Seized on the Upper West Side

An investigation by DEA New Jersey Division resulted in the seizure of 7 kilograms of fentanyl (over 15 lbs.) at Broadway and 76th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Agents were conducting surveillance as part of an ongoing investigation when they observed a man in a Honda with New York plates pull up behind a Toyota Sequoia with Maryland plates, park and exit the Honda carrying what appeared to be a heavy black bag. The man climbed into the Sequoia and then reemerged carrying a different bag that was red in color, which he placed in the Honda and drove off. Two individuals who had been seated in the Sequoia, Gary Waddell and Geneen James, were approached by agents as they got out of the vehicle. Waddell and James denied knowing anything about the man in the Honda. DEA agents observed the black bag in the Sequoia, but it was empty. After the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office obtained court authorization for a search, approximately 7 kilograms of fentanyl were found in a trap compartment in the center of the second row of seats.

Fentanyl 15 lbs

Seven kilograms of fentanyl (over 15 lbs.) were recovered on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Record-Breaking Heroin Packaging Operation Dismantled

Before the Fourth of July weekend, members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force dismantled one of the city’s largest known heroin packaging operations in the Bronx and seized 64 kilograms of heroin (140 lbs.) worth approximately $15 million. The packaging operation, known as a “heroin mill,” was in full swing at 2115 Harrison Avenue when agents and officers arrived at the door. Mill workers fled out the rear of the location and attempted to jump a fence. Nine defendants were charged. Over a million individual dose “glassine” envelopes had already been packaged for retail distribution. The envelopes were color-coded and branded with various names, such as Red Bull, Speed Limit and Sweet Dreams. Prior to entering the mill, agents and officers conducted surveillance at the location and observed two men leave with heavy bags. The bags contained $34,000 cash wrapped in bundles. Another $265,000 cash was recovered inside the mill.

Huge heroin haul

New York Daily News, July 2, 2016

Truck Axle and Drive Shaft Filled with 100 Pounds of Heroin

An investigation into heroin distribution organizations operating across the Northeast United States led agents with the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force to seize 48 kilograms (over 105 lbs.) of heroin in Elmhurst, New York. In January 2016, agents stopped two pick-up trucks with North Carolina license plates and a trained search dog confirmed the presence of narcotics. Heroin was later found concealed within a car axle casing in the bed of one of the pick-up trucks. The DEA estimated the street value of the heroin at $14 million. The two drivers were arrested.

(Right: Traffickers got creative and hid over 48 kilograms of heroin inside the axle and drive shaft of a large truck.)

Truck axle

Fentanyl Marketed as Heroin in Queens Drug Sale

Four kilograms of heroin and fentanyl (over 8 lbs.) were seized from a Queens-based drug trafficker, who was arrested while carrying a kilogram of fentanyl in a chest girdle. Agents and officers with the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force saw the defendant Cesar Cornelio-Mencia enter a customer’s vehicle. The investigation revealed the trafficker met with the customer in order to sell heroin. However, laboratory tests subsequently determined that the substance in the girdle was fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid that is an estimated 50 times stronger than heroin. Agents and officers also conducted a court authorized search of Cornelio-Mencia’s apartment at 98-04 Alstyne Avenue in Corona and recovered another three kilograms of narcotics. Two brick-shaped packages and a scale were recovered from the kitchen, along with drug ledger books. Two plastic bags of powder were found in a safe and multiple smaller clear plastic bags of narcotics and a heat-sealing machine were recovered from a boiler room. Three of the four kilograms seized in the investigation were a combination of fentanyl and heroin, while the fourth was heroin alone.

Over 65 Pounds of Heroin in Croton-on-Hudson

Two men were charged with possessing at least 30 kilograms of heroin (over 65 lbs.) hidden in the axle of a truck’s trailer in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. The defendants intended to sell the heroin for up to $2.3 million wholesale to distributors in New York City, Long Island and across the Northeast. A wiretap investigation by the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office and the DEA’s Long Island District Office revealed that the defendants received the shipment from a Mexican-based organization, which transported it across the Texas border. The defendants rented a single-family home on a private wooded lot for the sole purpose of using the location to park a tractor trailer and to stash the drug. Agents and investigators observed as the truck arrived at the rental property. Signs of welding on the axle led agents to discover 30 kilograms of heroin hidden inside.

Truck axle 2

This axle concealed over 30 kilograms of heroin.

Truck heroin

Traffickers concealed a trailer on a wooded property in Westchester in an unsuccessful attempt to elude law enforcement.

$5 Million in Heroin Seized at Inwood Drug Packaging Spot

A short-term heroin investigation led investigators to dismantle an Inwood heroin packing operation that was in full swing at 10 Park Terrace East. Ten mill workers were engaged in processing heroin and packaging tens of thousands of individual dose “glassine” envelopes for distribution when investigators and agents arrived to make arrests. Approximately $3 million worth of heroin was found in the apartment, including nearly 94,000 filled doses and over 3.5 kilograms (8 lbs.) of loose powder waiting to be packaged. More than 100 stamps used to label glassine envelopes with brand names, such as “$INCOME TAX,” were seized in the court authorized search.

Stamp Brands

Drug traffickers branded heroin with the name “$INCOME TAX” shortly before Tax Day.

Father and Son Ran Rx Drug Forgery Ring

Accused drug kingpin Nelson Quezada Sr. and his son Riquelvin Quezada allegedly ran a sophisticated drug trafficking ring that forged and filled prescriptions for approximately $1.5 million in addictive opioid painkillers. From 2010 to 2014, the Quezadas produced forged oxycodone prescriptions and paid “runners” in cash to fill the fraudulent prescriptions at pharmacies in the Bronx and elsewhere. The runners delivered the pills to the Quezadas for resale. An investigation identified over 460 forged prescriptions for oxycodone that had been printed on official prescription paper illegally obtained from a host of medical facilities, ranging from hospitals to small group practices. The prescriptions yielded more than 51,000 pills with a street value of up to $30 each. The scheme unraveled when New York City Human Resource Administration investigators became aware of a pattern of forgeries. Quezada Sr. faces the top narcotics charge of Operating as a Major Trafficker.

Rx Forgeries Yielded $3 Million in Pain Pills

Two leaders of a prescription forgery ring and five other defendants were charged in a lucrative scheme to illegally obtain over 160,000 oxycodone pills from pharmacies for resale on the black market. Ringleaders Joseph Bivona and Steven Keller face the top narcotics charge of Operating as a Major Trafficker, which carries a possible life sentence. The pair employed runners to visit pharmacies in Queens and Brooklyn in order to fill forged prescriptions, all of which bore the name of a physician who operated a pain management practice in Astoria, Queens. Members of the drug ring scaled back their criminal activity in response to the implementation of stricter regulations under “I-STOP,” New York State’s enhanced Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing. However, they managed to skirt a requirement that prescriptions be submitted to pharmacies electronically. Pills obtained during the scheme had an estimated street value of $3 million.

Ex-Physician Sold Pills to Patients after Losing License

A former practitioner of osteopathic medicine who sold amphetamine diet pills to patients long after his license was revoked pled guilty in exchange for a one-year jail sentence. Dr. Steven Bernhard, who practiced in Bayside, Queens, pled guilty to charges related to his treatment of a long-time patient who died. The patient, a 65-year-old woman, had a heart condition and regularly paid Bernhard cash for diet pills. She suffered a heart attack after receiving a larger supply than usual. Stimulant-like diet pills are contraindicated for patients with a history of heart disease. Bernhard’s license was revoked in 2013 after the New York State Board of Professional Medical Conduct sustained disciplinary charges against him.

Bernhard pills

Photo credit: Alex Tabak/New York Daily News

Colombian nationals Jorge Luis Hoayeck and Jorge Alberto Siado-Alvarez were extradited to the U.S. on charges of Operating as a Major Trafficker for allegedly smuggling narcotics to New York City aboard a famed Royal Spanish Navy training vessel, the Juan Sebastian de Elcano. In overseeing the international trafficking operation, the pair employed corrupt Spanish sailors to receive and conceal a load of narcotics during a stop in Cartagena, Colombia in April 2014. The ship then made its way north to a pier on Manhattan’s West Side, where the sailors were directed to off-load four kilograms of heroin and four kilograms of cocaine to a local drug distribution network. Members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force tracked and seized the narcotics in New York City and Hartford, Conn. As the Juan Sebastian de Elcano returned to its home port in Cadiz, Spain, U.S. officials alerted authorities there to the drug activity. The Spanish Civil Guard subsequently recovered nearly 280 pounds of cocaine from a sails storeroom.

Colombian ship traffickers

The defendants were caught smuggling 17 pounds of heroin and cocaine into Manhattan aboard a Royal Spanish Navy training vessel, the Juan Sebastian de Elcano.

Narcotics Mailed to NYC from Puerto Rico

A trafficking group smuggled large amounts of narcotics from Puerto Rico through the U.S. Mail for distribution in New York City, and sometimes concealed drugs inside boxes of exercise equipment and children’s toys. A Bronx-based ringleader and two drug suppliers in San Juan, Puerto Rico were among 13 charged as a result of a wiretap investigation by the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force. Agents recovered over 21 kilograms of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl (46 lbs.) with a combined street value of $4.5 million, as well as $150,000 in cash, $70,000 in jewelry, two vehicles, a short-barrel rifle, a stun gun and drug packaging equipment. Parcels containing narcotics were shipped to the Bronx, Manhattan and New Jersey. The Bronx-based ringleader and the two drug suppliers face the top narcotics charge of Operating as a Major Trafficker, which carries a possible life sentence.

toys

cocaine

A trafficking group shipped narcotics disguised as toys and exercise equipment through the U.S. Mail.

Money Launderers for Sinaloa Cartel Arrested

Laundering

The sister and brother team deposited narcotics funds at multiple banks in order to skirt reporting requirements.

A sister and brother team was arrested for laundering up to $1 million a month in narcotics proceeds for the Sinaloa Cartel. Much of the money that Alejandra and Francisco Salgado collected came from New York City-based drug trafficking groups. Alejandra Salgado, who maintained residences in Mexico City and California, was allegedly supervised by a high-ranking member of the cartel. The pair was extradited from Alaska, where Francisco resided. During trips to New York City, the Salgados met with local drug groups and deposited funds into multiple bank accounts held under fake names. They then wrote checks from those accounts to companies controlled by the cartel. On one day alone, DEA agents observed the well dressed duo visit seven banks in New York City in a matter of two hours and make cash deposits under the reporting requirement of $10,000 at each location. They lugged the money for cash deposits in bags. 

Cocaine Concealed in 100 Fake Yuccas

More than 100 plastic yucca roots concealing cocaine were recovered in the Soundview section of the Bronx along with $325,000 cash. The majority of the narcotics and money was seized from a basement apartment located across the street from P.S. 196, a public elementary school, and close to two other schools. Prior to searching the apartment, DEA agents and Special Narcotics investigators were conducting surveillance as part of a narcotics investigation. They observed an individual carrying a heavy bag leave the apartment and approach a vehicle. The bag held $100,000. Eight fake yucca roots filled with cocaine were in the trunk. The individual was also in possession of small quantities of heroin, crack and marijuana. 

Yucca cocaine

More than 100 of these fake yucca roots were recovered, most of which were located in an apartment across from a public elementary school.

Bronx Daycare Served as Cover for Drug Ring

Ten people were convicted as part of a sophisticated drug ring that used the U.S. Postal Service to smuggle kilogram quantities of cocaine to New York City from Puerto Rico. The narcotics trafficking organization, led by Juan Valdez, concealed narcotics in packages of children’s items, such as SpongeBob SquarePants bedding, and used a childcare center as a cover. The DEA, NYPD and U.S. Postal Service recovered approximately 23 kilograms (over 50 lbs.) of cocaine worth over $1.4 million wholesale. Valdez’s top manager, Gregorio Hanley, conducted drug business from his Bronx home, which doubled as Fun World Childcare. Nearly a kilogram of cocaine, over 700 oxycodone pills and over $15,000 were stored in the day care center, which was operated by the mother of Hanley’s two children. She was among those convicted. Valdez and Hanley were each sentenced to seven years in prison.

Drug Delivery in Livery Cars

A lucrative drug delivery service that sold cocaine from livery cars in the Bushwick and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn was dismantled following an investigation by the NYPD’s Narcotics Borough Brooklyn North. Ringleader Edgar Rodriguez is charged with overseeing the drug operation from a deli he owned in Brooklyn, where he occasionally sold drugs over the deli’s counter. The fleet of livery cars took on no fares other than drug customers, despite bearing NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) plates. In a search of Rodriguez’s home in Farmingdale, L.I., police seized approximately $300,000 cash, a firearm and ammunition, and nearly a kilogram of cocaine worth approximately$50,000 wholesale. A total of five defendants were arrested during the investigation, dubbed “Operation Cityline,” which centered on three overlapping narcotics operations. The defendants sold approximately $20,000 in cocaine to undercover officers during three-dozen transactions.

Livery drugs

Police recovered over $300,000 cash, a firearm and over a kilogram of cocaine from the head of a drug delivery service that dispatched livery cars.

Sin City Cabaret Cocaine Sales

Adult entertainers and a bouncer were among nine charged in connection with sales of cocaine at Sin City Cabaret, a gentlemen’s club located in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Undercover officers purchased cocaine from the defendants on nearly two-dozen occasions for over $20,000, with the majority of the sales taking place inside or in front of the club. In some instances, the defendants sold individual doses of cocaine, either inside a capsule, a bag, or rolled in a dollar bill, for the inflated price of $100. The largest sales in the case were conducted by the girlfriend of a dancer in the vicinity of their apartment and at a McDonald’s restaurant parking lot. This defendant pled guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison. A bouncer also pled guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison. Charges are pending against the majority of the defendants.

Sin City

New York Daily News, February 26, 2017

Staten Island Gang Shooting, Heroin Trafficking

Thirteen members of the “WB Savages,” a gang based in West Brighton, Staten Island, were arrested in connection with a conspiracy to sell heroin and a conspiracy to criminally possess guns. The investigation was initiated by the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD’s Staten Island Gang Squad (SIGS). Ringleaders Jahiek Chunn and Travis Johnson shared a cell phone that they used to take orders for heroin from customers, who were primarily located in the vicinity of the West Brighton Houses, a New York City Housing Authority residential complex. The group’s supplier transported heroin from Manhattan in a Jeep. In September 2015, violence erupted when Chunn was targeted in a shooting. Several months later, in April 2016, detectives learned Johnson and another individual were armed at a deli. Both fled when police arrived. However, two guns were recovered.

Gun hidden

One of two guns recovered when police investigated the presence of armed individuals in connection with gang activity.

Open Air Drug Market Disrupted in Washington Heights

Twelve defendants were arrested following a long-term investigation into criminal street gang involvement in an open air drug market in Washington Heights. The gang’s name “Six Block” was derived from the size of the gang’s territory in upper Manhattan. Defendants sold approximately $24,000 in drugs to undercover officers with the NYPD’s Manhattan North Gang Squad. The investigation also involved surveillance and an examination of social media postings, including images of the defendants flashing gang signs and money. One gang member brought a seven-year-old child along on  a sale. The defendants sold cocaine and pills, including oxycodone, a powerful opioid painkiller.

Close