Three men were cuffed for trafficking nearly 40 pounds of heroin and fentanyl from a large-scale narcotics packaging operation in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx.
On June 11, two Bronx residents, 46-year-old Hector Morillo and 44-year-old Freddy Hernandez Reyes, and 47-year-old Jaime Artiles of Orange, New Jersey, were arrested for allegedly trafficking the drugs. They were charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Third Degrees. All three were arraigned on July 16 before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Abraham Clott.
“Investigations that remove bulk shipments of deadly fentanyl-laced heroin from the drug market before they hit the streets have never been more important than now,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said. “As the CDC reported this week, fatal overdoses reached a record high nationwide in 2020. These deaths are largely due to fentanyl. We are committed to working with our partners to save lives by dismantling international trafficking networks that profit from drug dependence and death.”
On June 11, members of New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF) Group T-22 conducted a court-authorized search of two apartments at 1730 Montgomery Avenue as well as a Honda Pilot. At 5:15 a.m., authorities allegedly saw Artiles park a Honda Pilot in front of the building. Officers then allegedly saw Reyes leaving the location with a weighted-down black back and walk to the Honda and then reenter the building with a light blue bag. Artiles was then allegedly seen driving the Honda Pilot and stopping at the I-95 lower level near the George Washington Bridge with the weighted black bag in the back seat of the car.
At 10:30 that same morning, agents allegedly saw Morillo circle the block around 1730 Montgomery Avenue and enter the building. Reyes and Morillo were allegedly spotted leaving apartment 4G at the building and shortly afterward, they left apartment 6E, with Reyes carrying three plastic bags, including one that appeared to contain stamps and glassine envelopes used for branding and packaging individual doses of narcotics. Agents stopped the two and allegedly found Reyes in possession of 1.5 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl and Morillo in possession of an identification card issued by the Dominican Republic National Investigations (DNI), which appeared to have been obtained fraudulently.
A search of apartment 4G allegedly uncovered four kilograms of heroin and fentanyl in brick and powder form, approximately 200,000 packaged glassine envelopes of a heroin/fentanyl mixture, and packaging equipment, including dozens of stamps with brand names such as “Drop Dead” and “COVID-19” below a picture of a skull, grinders and scales. In apartment 6E, agents allegedly found a kilo press used for compacting powder into brick form and thousands of unused glassine envelopes, and a search of the Honda Pilot allegedly found that the black bag contained approximately 25,000 filled glassine envelopes containing a heroin/fentanyl mixture.
In total, agents allegedly recovered 19 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl from the apartments and a vehicle. The DEA estimates the street value of the narcotics recovered is $5 million. The results of DEA Laboratory analysis on some of the substances seized in this case are pending.
“Our local and federal partners continue to intercept deadly narcotics from harming our communities. This seizure of 40 pounds of heroin and fentanyl has saved lives,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said.” The fact that the packagers used “COVID-19” as a brand name illustrates the callousness of these alleged traffickers, as opioid overdose deaths surged during the pandemic. I thank the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan and the DEA for their work for the people of the Bronx.”