Authorities in New York State announced on Friday “a major heroin and fentanyl takedown” involving a seizure of drugs with a street value of more than $13 million, some of which was distributed in Suffolk County.
State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said government agents seized 33 kilograms of heroin and 2 kilograms of fentanyl.
“It’s an extraordinary takedown,” Schneiderman said Friday at a Manhattan news conference. “This is a huge quantity of dangerous drugs.”
The drugs the ring is accused of selling were mixed with nail polish remover, Novocain, chicken anesthetic and boric acid, Schneiderman said. Adding impurities is a way of padding the product without more expensive heroin.
Among the items seized by Schneiderman’s team: a gun with the logo of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.
“These folks know they’re dealing death,” Schneiderman said.
The drugs were allegedly smuggled in hidden compartments of cars and vans through Tucson, Arizona, to the Bronx, across the Eastern Seaboard.
Schneiderman said the compartments to conceal the drugs were a “very sophisticated operation.” In one example, he said, opening the drug-containing trap required turning on the windshield wiper, turning on a blinker, then activating a window switch in the right direction.
The investigation, known as “Operation Dirty Dope,” began in 2015 after a complaint from State Police about a spike in the heroin trade in Brentwood — overdoses, dealing and more — and led to the disruption of a national smuggling ring, according to Schneiderman’s office.
“Long Island is facing a very severe heroin and opioid problem,” he said. Of the investigation, he added, “It was pretty much a countywide problem. It started off in Brentwood, but it was a huge problem out there.”
Some of the drugs were distributed on the streets of Suffolk County, he said.
All but one of the Suffolk County defendants — Luis Aude-Mora, Amauris Sanchez and Oscarhyl Martinez Aude — have been arrested. Manuel Torres remains at large, and another named in the case, Nelfi Aude, has since died.
None of their attorneys could be immediately located for comment.
Luis Aude-Mora is from Bay Shore, Torres from Port Washington and the others are from Brentwood, according to office spokesman Doug Cohen. He said he “can’t comment about Nelfi’s death at all.”
Among the 25 people indicted in the case are residents of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, officials said.