Nine people found themselves in handcuffs following a two-year investigation into a Bronx drug mill that led to the discovery of 26,000 counterfeit, fentanyl-laced Oxycodone pills in an apartment building basement, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The investigation centered on three members of the same family who were allegedly manufacturing counterfeit Oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl. All three—which include brothers Edwin and Elvis Cabrera, as well as their sister Jennifer Duran—face charges such as the criminal sale of a controlled substance as well as possession. All three reside in Manhattan.
Many of the pills they manufactured were trafficked as oxycodone–but were counterfeit and contained fentanyl, according to authorities.
“Fentanyl is pushing overdose deaths in our city to record highs,” said NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan in a statement. “Those charged today made a business out of manufacturing and distributing lethal fentanyl masquerading as legitimate prescription pills.”
Law enforcement started its investigation after discovering that the brothers were allegedly trafficking narcotics. The investigation continued and authorities say that Edwin Cabrera, 39, was later believed to be manufacturing counterfeit Oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl.
During the course of the scheme, which allegedly ran from Aug. 29, 2019, to Feb. 16, 2023, authorities monitored the family’s communications that showed that Edwin Cabrera and Duran, 44, had ordered pill-pressing machines, while all three had put in orders for pill-pressing materials that are used to cut and bind the pills.
Wiretaps also led authorities to other individuals believed to be part of the trafficking scheme, including Erick Sanchez, a 27-year-old Manhattan resident, who was also charged today after being found to be distributing the drugs.
Cops monitored a phone call on Nov. 17, 2022, where Edwin Cabrera allegedly told Sanchez, “Yo, I got three places for tomorrow.” Later that day, Cabrera was seen making a delivery to Sanchez’ Manhattan apartment.
Authorities followed Sanchez’ vehicle the next day while he was traveling to Providence, RI, where he allegedly transferred narcotics to an unindicted individual. That individual was subsequently stopped, and authorities recovered approximately 3,000 pills containing fentanyl.
The brothers allegedly communicated over the phone following the bust that was monitored by authorities.
Based on the conversations, the brothers’ uncle, Miguel Castillo, 44, of Rhode Island, was found to be involved in the scheme and police stopped him on Jan. 9, 2023, while he was driving in the Bronx. He allegedly had a kilogram of cocaine inside his vehicle. He was arrested and the charges were announced today.
Police, via wiretaps, also found Frankie Rosario, a 24-year-old Pennsylvania resident, to be peddling drugs. He was stopped with two kilograms of fentanyl and faces drug charges. Three other individuals who were allegedly part of the scheme were also charged today on drug-related offenses, including Juan Dejesus, 52, Ruben Burgos, 38, and Jose Rodriguez, 32.
Authorities conducted a series of court-authorized searches, including Edwin Cabrera’s Manhattan apartment and Duran’s apartment, also in Manhattan. Police allegedly recovered two loaded guns and drugs from Cabrera’s apartment, and drugs from Duran’s home.
The investigation ultimately led them to the basement of an apartment building located at 901 Woodycrest Ave. in the Bronx. In a hidden compartment behind a false wall, authorities found the fentanyl pills, along with 50,000 multi-colored pills containing methamphetamine. The pills were of varying shapes and sizes and included a silhouette of Donald Trump, Bitcoin and Micky Mouse.
Frank Tarantino III, the special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division, said that investigation illustrates the prevalence of fentanyl, a deadly substance.
“Fentanyl and methamphetamine are being pressed into pills by local dealers like the Cabrera brothers, as well as the Cartels in Mexico. There is no difference between a pill mill in Mexico and a boiler room in the Bronx because they both produce death.”