In a scene ripped right out of one of an hour-long cable crime drama, a Bronx Heroin ring known as “La Perla Organization” has had its lucrative trade stopped dead in its tracks.
Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson announced the seizure of more than $1.5 million in cash and an undisclosed amount of heroin today. The money and illegal drugs were taken during the execution of 15 search warrants in the Fordham area of the Bronx.
The warrants also lead to the arrests of 31 alleged members with authorities expecting more as the investigation continues. Authorities say a vast majority of those arrested are either Latin King gang members or gang associates.
Johnson noted that the joint investigation was conducted over 9-months and included 28 court ordered wiretaps, video surveillance, undercover heroin “buys” and observation by NYPD detectives.
Detectives purchased 4 kilograms of heroin sold under various brands including the namesake, La Perla, Tuna, Salsa, and Sabroso throughout their investigation. They also recovered four guns and confiscated twelve vehicles.
Court documents note that the ring was active over a period of five years from July 23, 2005 through July 22, 2010.
Authorities allege that “La Perla” sold heroin at three locations spread throughout the Bronx at Valentine Ave., between 194th and 196th Streets, 157th Street and Gerard Avenue, and 180th Street and Mohegan Avenue.
Johnson alleges that daily sales raked in $25,000 and $40,000 and only occurred during two five-hour shifts Monday through Friday with an additional eight-hour shift on the weekends.
A grand jury returned an 82 count indicted, charging most of the individuals involved with conspiracy to distribute, and varying counts of possession and sale of heroin.
Officials have identified Wilson Guerrero, Antonio Carasquillo, Enrique Esquillin, and Luis Esquillin with enterprise corruption and operating a major drug trafficker, a part of the Drug Kingpin Statue.
They are also charged with conspiracy in the 2nd degree and criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance.
If convicted the leaders of the ring can face a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment if convicted of the most serious charge under the Drug Kingpin statute.