- Nine Hispanic individuals, including four family members, were arrested for running a multi-state drug trafficking ring that involved manufacturing and selling pills shaped like Donald Trump, Mickey Mouse, Bitcoin, and even Lego tacos, according to authorities.
- The joint investigation, which involved the FBI, DEA, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and NYPD, seized $2.5 million worth of drugs and led to the seizure of more than 26,000 fentanyl-laced pills, 50,000 methamphetamine pills, 2 kilograms of powdered fentanyl, and 3 kilograms of cocaine.
- Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that pushes overdose deaths to record levels in New York City. According to the DEA, it is the most significant threat to public health and safety; every five minutes, 295 people overdose in the United States.
Nine Hispanics, four family members, were arrested on suspicion of running a fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine trafficking ring that included making and selling pills shaped like Donald Trump, Mickey Mouse, bitcoin, domino pieces, and children’s Lego tacos, authorities said.
Police seized $2.5 million worth of drugs in dismantling the multi-state operation after a two-year joint investigation, New York City special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a statement. “Fentanyl is pushing overdose deaths in our city to record levels. (These) defendants made a business of manufacturing and distributing lethal fentanyl disguised as legitimate prescription pills.”
The indictment named brothers Edwin (39) and Elvis Cabrera (35), their sister Jennifer Duran (44), and their uncle Miguel Castillo (44). A second indictment included another man, Jose Rodriguez (32), for weapons possession, listed New York Post.
Also, Frankie Rosario (24), Juan DeJesús (52), Erick Sánchez (27), and Rubén Burgos (38) were charged with conspiracy and drug possession in the operation that reached as far as Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.
The colorful tablets, some fake oxycodone pills laced with highly lethal fentanyl, were made in nearly a dozen recognizable shapes, including dominoes, swords, Iron Man, bitcoin, and Legos, and green and yellow silhouettes of controversial former President Trump.
Most of the drugs were hidden in the boiler room of a Bronx apartment building, where prosecutors said one of the suspects worked as a superintendent.
The police operation ran from August 2019 through last month, with the Cabrera brothers as the initial targets of the joint local, state, and federal investigation.
The task force, which included members of the FBI, DEA, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and NYPD, raided two Manhattan apartments and a building in The Bronx near Yankee Stadium as part of the joint investigation.
In the same category:
- Rochester police chase and arrest two suspects for stealing jeep and crashing into school bus carrying 17 children
- 15-Year-Old autistic Sean Andrade achieves academic success and graduates at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park
- MS-13 gang member Marvin Moralez AKA Little Chucky, receives life sentence for Freeport teen’s murder
The haul included more than 26,000 fentanyl-laced pills, 50,000 methamphetamine pills weighing more than 40 pounds, 2 kilograms of powdered fentanyl, and 3 kilograms of cocaine. According to prosecutors, the gang used machines mailed to Manhattan and Rhode Island to manufacture the tablets and used “coded language” to discuss deals.
“Fentanyl and methamphetamine are being compressed into tablets by local traffickers like the Cabrera brothers and cartels in Mexico,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarantino. “There is no difference between a pill mill in Mexico and a boiler room in The Bronx because both produce death.”
All charges are mere accusations, and those indicted are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Last week six gang members were arrested on suspicion of fatally poisoning two victims’ drinks with fentanyl and other drugs in Manhattan bars and then robbing them, part of a pattern reported in several incidents since last year.
Also this month, Michelle Edoo (29), one of five workers who overdosed on fentanyl at an upscale mall in New Jersey, died.
Also on Friday, it was announced that fashion designer Kathryn Marie Gallagher (35) had died in the same manner – from “drug-facilitated robbery” –in her Lower Manhattan (NYC) apartment in July last year. The medical examiner’s office said she suffered acute intoxication from the combined effects of fentanyl, ethanol, and p-fluoro-fentanyl.
The latter is a designer drug linked to overdose deaths in eight states between late 2020 and June 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that combines drugs such as cocaine or heroin to produce a stronger effect.
In January, local authorities announced that in 2022 in NYC, there was a record seizure of fentanyl pills equivalent to 72 million fatal doses. “Fentanyl saturates the supply of illegal drugs in New York City and is a factor in approximately 80% of overdose deaths. Even casual or occasional use of illegal drugs could be fatal. With an explosion of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, a single tablet purchased online or on social media could be deadly,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan warned then in a statement.
“Fentanyl is the most significant threat to our public health and safety,” DEA Special Agent Frank Tarentino said then. “It is poison ... This is just the tip of the iceberg. Every day we have more seizures. In New York City, there’s a drug overdose every three hours. Nationally it’s every five minutes, 295 a day.”
In 2022, New York City authorities launched a controversial campaign on public transportation with “tips” for using fentanyl “safely,” which some called counterproductive and irresponsible.