Bust takes down South Bronx trafficking operation

More than 50 pounds of fentanyl recovered from group with ties to Mexican cartel

A drug ring that distributed heroin and fentanyl in the South Bronx and had ties to Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa cartel, was taken down in early June, the Bronx District Attorney’s office announced.

Twenty-two people were indicted for distributing heroin and fentanyl in the borough, following a 20-month investigation by the NYPD, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security. Eighteen of the defendants lived in the borough, many in Melrose, Morrisania. Some of the defendants allegedly tried to recruit drug users at drug treatment programs they frequented to buy and resell heroin.

More than 50 pounds of fentanyl destined for the Bronx and other northeastern US cities were seized during the investigation.

“This organization allegedly spanned street dealers in the South Bronx to significant suppliers in Mexico linked to the Sinaloa cartel,” announced Bronx DA Darcel Clark in a statement. “These indictments charge traffickers whose poison kills an average of 20 Bronxites a month. Fortunately, 23 kilos (50 pounds) of fentanyl were intercepted before it could wreak havoc. The stamp on many of the heroin packs says it all: PAID.”

The NYPD , the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security collaborated on the bust.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said, “This case provides a bird’s eye view of how the Sinaloa Cartel’s operation and transportation network brings heroin, fentanyl, and death to New York City doorsteps and users throughout the Northeast. Fentanyl is the deadliest threat facing communities nationwide.”

Drug dealers lace highly addictive fentanyl with other narcotics, “creating a more desired product among its customer base,” said Homeland Security Investigations New York Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez.

Most of the defendants were arrested during a May 28 takedown that yielded drugs, a.semi-automatic rifle and 189 rounds of ammunition. They were arraigned in Bronx Supreme Court, where they are due back in court on June 20.

 According to the investigation, dubbed “Operation Getting Paid,” two different groups trafficked fentanyl and heroin monthly, and sold it in bulk to distributors in the Bronx, Philadelphia, Albany, and other northeastern cities. The drugs wound up on the streets in $10 packets.

One defendant, a Mexican national with a Visa that permits limited travel to the US, is said to have crossed the border approximately 15 times in the last year and held meetings with other defendants in the Bronx, Philadelphia and Chicago.

The 50 pounds of fentanyl were seized from a hidden compartment in a vehicle in Chicago while en route to the Bronx and other locations on Feb. 8. A defendant who lives in Melrose and whom the DA identified as John Doe,, allegedly was going to receive part of the shipment and sell it to Carlos Rodriguez Santana of Melrose and Charlie Rodriguez of Morrisania.

The investigation began with a probe of one group alleged to have dealt drugs in the McKinley Houses. Rodriguez allegedly headed the group, which sold baggies of heroin with the stamp “PAID” and others with fentanyl stamped “PRICELESS.”

Another defendant, Jose Jaquez, allegedly transported drugs and cash throughout the Bronx in his green taxi.

The second group distributed narcotics from University Heights, Kingsbridge Heights, and Concourse, and supplied one defendant with heroin mixed with fentanyl near McKinley and Forest Houses. That defendant, Kelvin De Leon, died of acute heroin intoxication in his home in January.

Defendants Carlos Vazquez, AKA Catano, of White Plains, and Felipe Marquez of East 165 Street, frequented drug treatment programs, where they are suspected to have tried to persuade other patients to buy or resell heroin.

The Bronx defendants are:

John Doe, AKA Saul, AKA Alex, East 154 Street;

Carlos Rodriguez Santana, of 76 East 155 Street;

Charlie Rodriguez, 45, East 163 Street;

Robert Goldberg, 65 of Sheridan Avenue;

Jose Jaquez, 39, of Hammersley Avenue; 

Santiago Jose Martinez Sanchez, AKA Eduito, 51, of East 141 Street;

Silvia Vidal, 30, Bruckner Boulevard;

Carlos Vazquez, AKA, Catano, 66, White Plains Road;

Damaso Rodriguez, 51, Prospect Avenue;

Felipe Marquez, 60, East 165 Street;

Leonardo Villar-Cruz, AKA Cuba, 62, of Morrison Avenue;

Juan Serrano, AKA John, 56, Reverend James A. Polite Avenue;

John Torres, AKA John, 50, Saint John Ave;

Jose Muniz, AKA Joey, 37, Tiebout Avenue;

Eduard Ventura de Leon, AKA Eduardo, 32, Sedgwick Avenue;

Carlos Miguel de Leon, AKA Carlito, AKA Jorge, 28, Walton Avenue;

Victor Manuel Burgos Ramos, AKA Chaka, 30, Leggett Avenue,

Carmen Delia Burgos Ramos, AKA Yeli, 29, Grand Avenue.

According to the law, defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  An indictment is not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

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