25 People Indicted In Heroin Smuggling Ring That Stretched From Arizona Across Eastern Seaboard; Eight Facing Major Trafficking Charges
More Than 33 Kilos Of Heroin Seized; Total Street Value More Than $13 Million; Biggest Seizure In History Of State’s Organized Crime Task Force
Schneiderman: We Will Use Every Tool At Our Disposal To Curb This Crisis
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, New York State Police (NYSP), and the Massachusetts DEA Task Force today announced the indictment of more than two dozen people for their roles in an alleged national heroin smuggling ring.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Dirty Dope,” seized more than 33 kilos of heroin and 2 kilos of Fentanyl, with a total street value of more than $13 million.
The operation -- which began with the New York State Police Troop L Narcotics Enforcement Unit in April 2015 and netted alleged dealers and traffickers in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and New Jersey -- 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. The bust 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).
“Operation Dirty Dope is another step in our multi-faceted effort to curb the heroin crisis that is destroying our communities,” Attorney General 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 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.”
“Opioid abuse is at epidemic levels in Massachusetts and across the North East,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “Heroin is causing deaths across the Commonwealth in record numbers and DEA is committed to aggressively pursuing Drug Trafficking Organizations who are coming from out of state to distribute this poison across Massachusetts in order to profit and destroy people's lives and wreak havoc in our communities. This investigation would not have been a success without the continued commitment of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners.”
The indictments, unsealed in Bronx County Court today, detailed a sophisticated distribution ring that allegedly moved most of the drugs from Mexico into Tucson, Arizona. From Arizona, the drugs were allegedly 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.
The investigation utilized confidential informants, wiretaps, and physical and video surveillance.
In the wiretaps, the defendants can allegedly be heard discussing plans to mix other chemicals -- including chicken anesthetic, Novocain, acetone (nail polish remover), roach killer (boric acid), fentanyl, and more – in with the heroin to add to the bulk and value.
During bail arguments, it was also alleged that 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.
Those charged as major traffickers include:
- Daniel Abascal Pena
- Argenis Grullon, a/k/a “Alpha” or “Hanley”
- Reymon Rivera Ortiz, a/k/a “Dioco”
- Francisco Martinez Reyes, a/k/a “Viejo”
- Edwin Nunez Sierra, a/k/a La Papa
- Carlos Almonte, a/k/a Luis Rivera
- Carlos Hierro-Mata
- Luis Aude-Mora
Others indicted include:
- Manuel Castillano a/k/a “Cuñado”
- Manuel Amparo, a/k/a “Cacu”
- Tomas Salinas
- Hector Diaz, a/k/a “Shorty”
- Gisette Hernandez
- Jandhel Restituyo Vasquez
- Yeimy Matias
- Ryan Martinez
- Fernando Suero
- Oscarhyl Martinez Aude
- Manuel Torres, a/k/a “Raul”
- Amauris Sanchez
- Domingo Pena
- Juan Miguel Marte Javier
- Carlos Alberto Borges Perez
- Jose R. Rodriquez a/k/a “Rafa”
- Luis Martinez, a/k/a “Majimbe”
Those charged as major traffickers could face life in prison if convicted. All others could face 8 1/3 to 25 years if convicted.
Several additional agencies assisted in the investigation, including the Tucson Arizona United States Marshal Service, Fitchburg Police Department, Army Air National Guard, South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force, North Miami Police Department, New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Bronx County District Attorney Darcel Clark, the New York Sheriff's Office of Criminal Investigation and the New York City Police Department.
The investigation was conducted by OCTF Investigators Kerry Buttner and Naomi Jimenez 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.
The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General James Cudden, together with OCTF Analyst Nicole Accurso. Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff runs the Organized Crime Task Force and Kelly Donovan is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Division.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.