On May 17, DEA agents raided a stash house and trap vehicle in the Bronx and found 70 kilos (approximately 155 pounds) of Mexican heroin, $2 million in cash, and a handgun. The bust is the largest carried out by DEA agents in New York City history.
“This load was so large, it carried the potential of supplying a dose of heroin to every man, woman and child in New York City,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said at a press conference Tuesday, where the DEA showed off its haul.
The DEA’s fuzzy math estimates the dope’s “street value” at $50 million.
The raid was the culmination of a yearlong investigation. Traffickers were bringing in heroin from the Mexican city of Culiacán, an area controlled by the notorious Sinaloa cartel. The alleged leader of the Bronx operation, Jose “Hippie” Mercedes, and an accomplice named Yenci Cruz Francisco were arrested Sunday after investigators followed them from the Bronx stash house to a warehouse in New Jersey and then back to the Bronx on Saturday. DEA agents moved in on Sunday morning, and found the heroin concealed in hidden compartments in Mercedes’ Chevy Suburban. The cash was stashed in floorboards in the apartment.
Heroin has reemerged as a serious problem in New York in recent years; 420 people died in New York City from heroin overdoses 2013, more than the 333 homicides and the highest number since 2003.