WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - A Westchester drug kingpin who had $50 million worth of heroin seized by the DEA is heading to prison for his role running an extensive narcotics operation.
Bridget Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor announced this week that 49-year-old Jose “Hippie” Mercedes Sr. of Yonkers has been sentenced to 14 years in state prison, followed by five years post-release supervision for possession of more than 150 pounds of heroin.
Mercedes pleaded guilty to one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance on Sept. 14, one day before his trial was scheduled to begin in Manhattan Supreme Court.
According to officials, Mercedes governed an expansive network of heroin distribution from Mexico to the tri-state area. He was arrested by the DEA on May 17, 2015, when the heroin was found from a concealed trap compartment in the floor of a truck parked in a gated lot in the Bronx.
The heroin was discovered with the help of a K-9 Unit from the Yonkers Police Department.
Following the execution of a search warrant at the Bronx apartment used by Mercedes to store and prepare the heroin, investigators also found $2 million in cash hidden under the floorboards.
This represented the largest single cache of heroin ever seized in New York City by the DEA, according to officials. At a time when overdose deaths rates were on the rise, this shipment could have yielded over eight million doses of heroin.
Brennan noted that Mercedes was responsible for distributing hundreds of pounds of heroin throughout the northeast.
“The multi-million dollar narcotics trafficking organization enabled Mercedes to live a lavish lifestyle and to employ multiple generations of the Mercedes family, including his son, brother, nieces and nephews,” she stated.
“The investigation revealed that Mercedes controlled members of his family in almost every respect, requiring them to potentially sacrifice their lives to live with Mexican cartels well known for violence, transport narcotics across state lines, package narcotics for resale and insulate the organization from law enforcement by registering vehicles and apartments in dummy names.”
In a statement following sentencing, Brennan said that her office will track drug traffickers, destroy the drugs and seize profits.
“Jose Mercedes will spend 14 years in New York State prison as just punishment for the death and devastation he and his drug organization inflicted on our city. No prison sentence could possibly compensate the thousands from every community who have lost loved ones to heroin addiction, but I hope this lengthy sentence and our successful investigation will serve as a warning to traffickers who try to use our city as their headquarters.”
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