Three Westchester County men were arrested Friday along with dozens of others during the takedown of a national heroin smuggling ring that included the seizure of $13 million in heroin, according to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Yonkers residents Francisco Martinez Reyes and Edwin Nunez Sierra, and Mount Vernon's Argenis Grullon, were scooped up in the what officials are calling "Operation Dirty Dope," officials said.
All three were charged in Bronx County Court as major traffickers, and could face life in prison if convicted, officials said.
The operation, which included the seizure of more than 33 kilos of heroin and 2 kilos of Fentanyl, is one of the largest heroin seizures ever in New York and is the single largest single seizure in the 46-year history of the state's Organized Crime Task Force, said Schneiderman.
Agents also seized 300 grams of cocaine, two semi-automatic handguns -- including one inscribed with a drug cartel’s insignia -- and eight vehicles, four of which contained sophisticated concealed compartments, or “traps,” designed for the purpose of smuggling narcotics, he added.
“Operation Dirty Dope is another step in our multi-faceted effort to curb the heroin crisis that is destroying our communities,” Schneiderman said. “Our message to dealers and traffickers is simple: we will not tolerate anyone smuggling death into our state. I want to thank all of our law enforcement partners across the country, especially the New York State Police and the Massachusetts DEA Task Force, who helped bring these defendants to justice.”
The indictments detailed a sophisticated distribution ring that allegedly moved most of the drugs from Mexico into Tucson, Ariz. From Arizona, the drugs were moved in hidden compartments in cars from Arizona to the Bronx, Washington Heights, and Pennsylvania. From there, traffickers moved the drugs to sell in Suffolk County and the central Massachusetts town of Leominster, Schneiderman said.
During the investigation, agents used confidential informants, wiretaps, and physical and video surveillance. On the wiretaps, the defendants can be heard discussing plans to mix other chemicals -- including chicken anesthetic, Novocain, acetone, roach killer, fentanyl, and more – in with the heroin to add to the bulk and value, officials said.
During bail arguments, prosecutors said traffickers used people addicted to heroin as human guinea pigs to test the quality of the cut heroin, flagrantly disregarding whether the laced heroin would kill them or not.
The investigation, which was led by the New York State Police and Schneiderman's office, began on Long Island in April 2015 when a confidential informant contacted state police, Schcneiderman said.
Organized Crime Task Force Investigators Kerry Buttner and Naomi Jimenez led the operation together with The New York State Police Troop L Narcotics Enforcement Unit, and the New England Field Division Worcester HIDTA. OCTF investigators are supervised by Deputy Chief Christopher Vasta. The Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.Numerous.
“The valuable partnerships developed through the Organized Crime Task Force were the key in bringing down this illegal drug trafficking organization,” said New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II. “I want to thank State Police Troop L, the Attorney General’s Office, and all our partners for the hard work that has resulted in 25 dangerous criminals behind bars, and a significant amount of heroin and other drugs of our streets.”
Others arrested and charged include: Daniel Bascal Pena, Manuel Castillano, Reymond Rivera Ortiz, Fernando Suero, Carlos Almonte, Carlos Hierro-Mata, Luis Aude-Mora, Manuel Amparo, Tomas Salinas, Juan Miguel Marte Javier, Hector Diaz, Gisette Hernandez, Jandhel Restituyo Vasquez, Yeimy Matias, Ryan Martinez, Oscarhyl Martinez Aude, Amauris Sanchez, Domingo Pena, Carlos Alberto Borges Perez, Jose Rodriguez, Luis Martinez and Manuel Torres.