The largest heroin seizure in New York's history took place this week.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on Tuesday it had seized 154 pounds of heroin, worth $50 million, from secret compartments located in vehicles in New York.
Two men, Jose A. Mercedes (also known as “Hippie”) and Yenci Cruz Francisco, who are believed to be involved in a massive drug ring along with a Mexican cartel, were arrested. Authorities believe a similarly sized shipment of heroin was being received each month from Mexico.
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The drug ring was the main source of supply for heroin users in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, reports NBC New York.
According to the DEA and Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan, the heroin seizure is the largest ever recorded in New York state.
"To put it in perspective, this load was so large it carried the potential of supplying a dose of heroin to every man, woman and child in New York City," Brennan said. "While this important seizure stopped a huge amount of heroin from flooding our city, it also highlights the critical need to intercept heroin before it ever reaches our region."
The bust was part of a year-long investigation by DEA agents, New York City Police Department investigators and state police detectives.
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After allegedly witnessing Francisco and Mercedes pick up a large shipment of heroin in Montville, New Jersey, agents maintained surveillance on the two men until Sunday morning, when they left a Bronx apartment in separate cars.
Both men were stopped in their vehicles and the heroin was found.
The DEA states that in Mercedes’ car, ”several large bags containing a tan powdery substance were recovered from the front seat of the car and from a hidden compartment in the center console."
Francisco’s vehicle had a hidden compartment under the floor that contained 70 “rectangular shaped kilogram packages of heroin" labeled "Rolex.” Agents also found $24,000 in cash in the car.
A search of New York City apartments affiliated with the two men uncovered $2 million in cash and a .38-caliber firearm.
Mercedes and Francisco are charged with operating as major traffickers and first-degree possession of a controlled substance. They are being held without bail.
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