Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

$12 Million in Heroin, Crystal Meth Seized From Upper Manhattan Stash Houses

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    Authorities arrested three people in connection with an investigation into two suspected stash houses in Washington Heights from which authorities seized 44 pounds of heroin and 17 pounds of crystal meth, believed to have a street value of more than $12 million. Michael George reports (Published Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014)

    Authorities arrested three people in connection with an investigation into two suspected stash houses in Washington Heights from which authorities seized 44 pounds of heroin and 17 pounds of crystal meth, believed to have a street value of more than $12 million. 

    Officials allege the suspects are members of a sophisticated drug trafficking ring based in two apartments in a building on Wadsworth Avenue that they used to house copious amounts of drugs for distribution in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and other states.

    They say the suspects chose the location because access to the George Washington Bridge, Interstate 95 and the RFK Triborough Bridge facilitated drug transit.

    Authorities had been conducting surveillance for several days outside the Wadsworth Avenue apartment building and noticed the suspects repeatedly coming in and leaving with bags. On Monday, investigators trailed two of the suspects as they left the building and took them into custody several blocks away. A third suspect was arrested later.

    Later that afternoon, investigators executed a search warrant at one of the suspected stash apartments and say they found $120,000 cash in a bedroom safe and 17 pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment behind the wall of the bathroom. They found hollowed out shoes, which are often used to conceal narcotics.

    Authorities also seized 100 grams of heroin from the pocket of a jacket inside a closet, multiple cellphones, drug ledgers and an electrical bill for another apartment in the same building.

    Officials got a search warrant for the other apartment, to which two of the suspects had keys, and found a sophisticated counter-surveillance system inside. Two pinhole cameras recorded activity in the public hallway from end to end and fed the video to a monitor mounted above the door inside the apartment and to a DVR, authorities said.  

    Officials say they found more than three dozen pounds of heroin in the second apartment -- 24 pounds in a hidden kitchen compartment, 11 pounds tucked between a mattress and box spring in the bedroom, 2 pounds in a TV storage tower and 5 pounds behind a bathroom wall. 

    The three suspects were arraigned Tuesday night on multiple counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance. Two were held without bail. 

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