The New York Drug Enforcement Administration today announced the arrest of six people in connection with a wiretap investigation into a cocaine ring operating out of a popular pizza parlor in the Bronx. Nine kilograms of cocaine, four weapons and approximately $20,000 were seized during five search warrant operations. Three of the ring's customers were previously charged during the investigation.
DEA Special Agent-In-Charge John P. Gilbride stated, "Using their pizza shop as a front for drug trafficking, the dough that this organization made was not from the sale of pizza but rather illegal narcotics. Through concentrated law enforcement efforts this organization's brick ovens have been shut down."
During the ten-month investigation, agents identified Benigno Burgos, manager of John's Pizza at 1788 Westchester Avenue in the Bronx, and Victor Gomez, his partner in the drug business, as the leaders of a cocaine distribution enterprise. Other members of the drug operation, who doubled as delivery men and workers for the pizzeria, prepared narcotics orders, met with narcotics customers, and replenished the cocaine supply kept inside the pizza parlor.
In the past 10 months, the Burgos' organization received multiple separate deliveries of cocaine, ranging from 200 grams to more than 10 kilograms apiece. From the pizzeria and at least four stash houses within walking distance, the group prepared, sold and distributed ounces, kilogram and multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to dealers in the New York metropolitan area and Connecticut.
Three customers of the cocaine ring were previously arrested during the investigation. On October 9, 2008, DEA agents recovered half a kilogram of cocaine in the Bronx and arrested Confesor Delrio and Rafael Chevalier. Noel Farrow was arrested on November 25, 2008 in the Bronx and DEA agents recovered one kilogram of cocaine and approximately $50,000. Delrio and Chevalier were indicted by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor on top narcotics felonies.? Farrow has felony narcotics charges pending in Criminal Court.
Five search warrant operations were conducted yesterday at various locations in the Bronx including, John's Pizza; Burgos' residence at 1317 Taylor Avenue, 2 nd Floor where nine kilograms of cocaine were seized hidden under a child's mattress; Montana's residence at 1661 Union Port Road, 2 nd Floor; 1842 Cross Bronx Expressway, Apt 1A where three guns were recovered; and 1250 Beach Avenue, 2nd Floor where one gun, U.S. currency and drug paraphernalia was recovered. Burgos was arrested at John's Pizza where agents recovered a wrapper from a kilogram of cocaine and a small quantity of packaged cocaine. In addition to the nine kilograms of cocaine and the four weapons, U.S. currency was also recovered.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said: "It must be alarming to find out that your neighborhood pizza parlor is a haven for a wholesale cocaine operation. Out of state "take out" customers went to the pizza parlor to pick up their orders, often using pizza boxes to conceal the $32,000 to $42,000 worth of cocaine they had just purchased. Other customers received their narcotics delivered to pre-arranged locations in the Bronx."