Nine suspects - including a man from Westchester - are facing charges for an alleged drug trafficking operation that led to fatal overdoses in Westchester and the Bronx.
The charges are against nine alleged members of a criminal organization that trafficked in heroin and the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl in the Soundview section of the Bronx and in Westchester, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More than 30 pounds of heroin and fentanyl, five handguns, an assault rifle and $170,000 cash were seized.
The investigation into the drug trafficking operation was launched in 2017 following four overdoses, two fatal in Soundview and one in Westchester. An additional nonfatal overdose occurred during the investigation in Westchester in November last year.
Among those charged include Elmsford resident Ismael Lugo, who was among the top drug suppliers for the organization.
Lugo and Ricardo Gonzalez, who were arrested on Wednesday, Oct. 9 inside a stash location in the Bronx, ICE said. At the time of their arrests, Lugo and Gonzalez were seated in a back room with loose powder on a table in front of them when agents and officers arrived shortly after 4 p.m. Approximately 10 kilograms of heroin, six guns and over $100,000 cash were recovered, with the majority of the narcotics found in the same room as Lugo and Gonzalez.
According to ICE, Four semi-automatic handguns, a revolver, ammunition and over 17,000 filled glassine envelopes of suspected heroin were found concealed inside a dresser outfitted with a hidden compartment.
Two closets in the apartment contained an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, ammunition, two kilograms of suspected heroin, a pair of mechanical kilo presses used for compressing narcotics into brick form and approximately four pounds of marijuana.
The apartment also contained paraphernalia and equipment used in the packaging of narcotics, such as grinders, sifters, face masks, gloves, and goggles, as well as more than a dozen empty kilo wrappers.
ICE said that a search of Lugo’s Elmsford home later that day led to the recovery of approximately $10,000 cash and five kilograms of suspected heroin and fentanyl. The narcotics were packaged in a similar manner as the kilograms seized in the Bronx. Three cars with hidden “trap” compartments contained approximately 250 grams of fentanyl and over $35,000 cash.
“When criminal organizations are armed with guns and highly addictive, dangerous drugs such as fentanyl, the risk to public safety could not be greater. Headquartered out of a Soundview apartment, these criminals had everything needed to cut heroin and fentanyl and package it for sale. Fortunately, from the street dealer to the supplier, this illicit business has been obliterated as a result of the hard work and collaboration among the law enforcement partners,” Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of HSI New York said in a statement.
Others facing charges are:
- Marcario “Mac” Vasquez;
- Victor “Tito” Munett;
- Charles Underwood;
- Gabriel “Green Eyes” Vasquez;
- Frank “Ponce” Laboy;
- Joshua “Flaco” Vega;
- Hermelinda Anglada.
“The arrests announced today took merchants of death and their deadly products off the streets of the Bronx and Westchester,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said. “Even as customer overdoses and deaths mounted, their business flourished. They stockpiled not only cash but an arsenal of deadly weapons. I thank our attorneys, investigators and partners for their two-year commitment to this case.”
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