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Bronx gang sold heroin that killed at least 5 people, NYPD says

The suspects continued to sell the fentanyl-laced drug even after people started overdosing, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman alleged.

A heroin trafficking bust in the Bronx resulted

A heroin trafficking bust in the Bronx resulted in 18 arrests, police said. Photo Credit: NYPD

NYPD detectives and FBI agents on Tuesday charged 18 members of a Bronx drug gang who allegedly sold fentanyl-laced heroin believed to be responsible for at least five overdose deaths in the city, officials said.

The suspects, ranging in age from 21 to 62, were charged with trafficking about 100 kilos - nearly 225 pounds - of heroin over a three-year period stretching from 2015 until this month, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

According to officials, the ring operated in the Fordham Heights area between 182nd and 184th Street and sold heroin laced with fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, which allegedly led not only to the five deaths but also a significant number of overdoses in the city and nearby Westchester County.

Cops and federal agents executed search warrants and seized three kilos of heroin laced with fentanyl, two pounds of marijuana, a loaded .45 caliber handgun and what NYPD chief of detectives Dermot Shea said was a “significant amount of cash.” Court papers put the amount at $300,000.

“The streets of the Bronx are a little bit safer today,” Shea said.

Shea announced the results of the 11-month joint NYPD-FBI investigation at a monthly crime briefing Tuesday. Also at the briefing, officials said that despite crime upticks in the Bronx and Brooklyn, the second lowest number of serious offenses in modern history were recorded in May.

However, officials noted that reports of rapes city-wide, as they have done for several months, continued to increase.

So far rapes are up 35 percent compared to 2017, said Chief Lori Pollock, head of crime control strategies. She attributed the overall increase to better outreach to victims and people being more willing to come forward with complaints.

The drug takedown announced Tuesday was sparked by fentanyl deaths that first came to police attention in September 2017, when a glassine envelope marked with the brand name “Obsession” was found near a victim’s body, according to the indictment. A few days later another overdose death occurred and a glassine envelope marked “Fist of Power Cord” was found near the body. Each time a death occurred, the drug ring would stop using the brand mark and switch to another as it continued to market the heroin-fentanyl mixture, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

“Even after they realized the potency of the drugs they were distributing and selling – and the overdose risk those drugs posed – the defendants allegedly continued to sell their poison and to fuel the opioid epidemic plaguing our nation,” Berman said.

Among those arrested and charged was Maurice Hartley, 35, of the Bronx, who was accused in the indictment with supervising the ring and supplying others with large supplies of heroin and fentanyl. In a related criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in federal court, an FBI agent said that Hartley’s girlfriend, Tia Jasper, admitted that she sometimes sold heroin to members of the ring when Hartley was not around. Jasper was charged in the complaint with narcotics conspiracy.

A spokesman for Berman said there was no arraignment information available for Hartley or Jasper as of late Tuesday.

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