Three New York City men were arrested for allegedly running a meth conversion lab out of a Bronx apartment.
Angel Zepeda, 49, of the Bronx, Inoel Acosta, 35, and Luis Reyes, 26, both of Manhattan, were brought into custody on charges of running the lab in a vacant Bronx apartment.
This is the first meth conversion lab that DEA has encountered in New York City. The lab has since been dismantled by members U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and New York City Police Department (NYPD).
“Illegal drug labs where chemicals are used to produce narcotics pose grave dangers for New Yorkers and first responders, including the men and women of the FDNY,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “Thanks to the excellent work of law enforcement and the actions of FDNY members who responded, this illegal operation was shut down safely without injury.”
On Feb. 3, officers from the 50th Precinct contacted the DEA after receiving information about unusual activity at a vacant apartment located at 3204 Kingsbridge Ave., Apt. 6A. Members of the NYPD and DEA reviewed security footage taken of Apt. 6A and later allegedly identified Acosta, Reyes and Zepeda arriving at and leaving the apartment, sometimes carrying gallons of acetone. On Feb. 3 in particular, security footage allegedly showed Acosta and Reyes entering the apartment with a large blue container.
It was confirmed by law enforcement that neither Reyes nor Acosta were tenants of the vacant apartment and had no right to be inside. Acosta and Reyes were later detained after they exited the building at 6:59 p.m. that same day.
Members of the FDNY, NYPD and DEA entered the apartment and allegedly smelled acetone and saw a makeshift methamphetamine laboratory in the apartment, which the DEA described as non-furnished. Agents allegedly found a large metal pot on the stove burner with a sifter containing crystal meth, as well as 12 bricks (weighing approximately 20 pounds) of methamphetamine powder in reusable shopping bags under the sink. Law enforcement allegedly recovered clear plastic bags containing 2 pounds of crystal meth, approximately 45 grams of heroin, and thousands of pills from a cabinet above the sink.
Officials also allegedly recovered two types of pills, those with the appearance of oxycodone pills and those with the appearance of Percocet pills. The pills will be tested for fentanyl by the DEA’s Northeast Regional Laboratory. There were also scales and a thermometer in the kitchen.
According to the DEA, the chemicals found in conversion labs are highly volatile and may explode if used or stored improperly. The FDNY and NYPD vacated the neighboring apartments while the lab was being dismantled.
Further investigation and security footage allegedly showed Zepeda, who is the superintendent of the building, unlocking the door at Apt. 6A and carrying supplies used to convert methamphetamine into crystal meth into the apartment on Jan. 15. The supplies they carried allegedly included a baking tray, a large blue cooler and a large cooking pot. Zepeda was arrested in the lobby of the building on Feb. 11.
Acosta and Reyes were charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First, Second, Third and Fifth Degrees, Burglary in the Third Degree and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree. They were both arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Feb. 5 and held on bail. Zepeda is charged with Criminal Facilitation in the Second Degree and was arraigned on Feb. 12 in Manhattan Criminal Court — he was released on supervised release.
“This isn’t breaking bad, but it is a bad sign that methamphetamine is trying to make a home in New York City. If the latest reports of increases in drug-related overdose deaths don’t scare you, crystal meth conversion labs in New York City should,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said. “As the Mexican drug trafficking networks continue to push methamphetamine across the nation towards New York, DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to interdict the shipments, dismantle distribution networks, and save lives.”