Officials today announced the seizure of approximately nine kilograms (nearly 20 pounds) of suspected fentanyl and heroin from an apartment building across the street from Central Park in Manhattan, N.Y. and from a vehicle. Four defendants are charged.
On August 4, 2017 at approximately 3:35 p.m., members of the DEA Strike Force, Financial Investigations Team (FIT), and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s (SNP) Investigators Unit were conducting surveillance in the vicinity of 448 Central Park West, an apartment building at the corner of 105th Street, when they observed defendant David Rodriguez, exiting the building carrying two boxes inside a large white shopping bag. David Rodriguez then got into the backseat of a black Honda Accord driven by David Rodriguez, an Uber driver. Members of FIT followed the vehicle to 121st Street and Amsterdam Avenue.
Agents and investigators stopped the vehicle and observed David Rodriguez sitting in the backseat with the two boxes. One box was open and a clear plastic bag containing a tan powdery substance was visible inside. Upon closer inspection of the larger of the two boxes, agents and investigators saw six large cylindrical packages wrapped in tape and plastic wrap in addition to the plastic bag of tan powder. The smaller box contained one large cylindrical package wrapped in tape and plastic wrap and one clear plastic bag containing a tan powdery substance. Agents and investigators seized these packages, which contained a suspected combination of fentanyl and heroin. David Rodriguez and Richard Rodriguez were placed under arrest.
Members of FIT and SNP investigators continued surveillance at 448 Central Park West. At approximately 5 p.m., agents and officers observed JESUS PEREZ-CABRAL and JOHNNY BELTREZ exiting the building. Based on intelligence developed during the investigation, agents and officers identified PEREZ-CABRAL as an alleged member of the narcotics trafficking organization and approached him. PEREZ-CABRAL told members of FIT that he lived at 448 Central Park West, Apt. 6D, and admitted to having a gun and drugs inside the apartment.
The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) obtained a search warrant for 448 Central Park West, Apt. 6D. During a court authorized search of the residence, officers and investigators recovered two large ziplock bags containing approximately three kilograms of a suspected fentanyl and heroin combination from inside a hall closet, as well as 1,100 individual dose glassine envelopes that had been filled with powder and stamped with the brand name “UBER.” Agents and officers found a loaded .25 caliber Beretta pistol wedged between two couch cushions. Also recovered from the apartment were $30,000 in cash, several identification cards for other individuals, multiple cellphones and ledgers. In addition, supplies and paraphernalia consistent with a heroin/fentanyl packaging mill were seized including: stamps, rubber bands, folding tables, boxes of ziplock bags, a heat sealing device, gloves, masks, and empty glassines branded “Panda,” “Black Friday” and “Wild Card.”
A dangerously strong synthetic opioid, fentanyl is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin and is increasingly found mixed into the illicit narcotics supply in New York City. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, fentanyl is driving a spike in fatal overdoses, which reached an all-time high of 1,374 deaths in New York City in 2016 – a 46% increase over 2015.