What to Know
- Six individuals were arrested in connection with a large-scale drug mill that operated in the University Heights neighborhood of the Bronx and distributed "coronavirus" and "24 Black Mamba" heroin throughout New York and New Jersey, according to prosecutors
- The charges stem from a long-term investigation into an alleged narcotics trafficking operation in New York City
- The investigation led to the seizure of about 120,000 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin/fentanyl worth over a million dollars, as well as $25,000 cash and drug packaging materials, according to Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, Bridget Brennan
Six individuals were arrested in connection with a large-scale drug mill that operated in the University Heights neighborhood of the Bronx and distributed "coronavirus" and "24 Black Mamba" heroin throughout New York and New Jersey, according to prosecutors.
Dariel Fermin, 32, Manuel Morillo, 54, Frank Marte Urena, 30, Cindy Cortoreal, 35, Yamilka Fermin, 33, and Ana Lora Diaz, 24, all from the Bronx, are facing charges for criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to officials. All of the accused, except for Urena, are also facing charges in the second degree for criminally using drug paraphernalia. Dariel Fermin was also charged with operating as a major trafficker.
Attorney information for the accused was not immediately known.
The charges stem from a long-term investigation into an alleged narcotics trafficking operation in New York City, that distributed throughout the Northeast. The investigation led to the seizure of about 120,000 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin/fentanyl worth over a million dollars, as well as $25,000 cash and drug packaging materials, according to Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, Bridget Brennan.
A surveillance operation centered on Dariel Fermin, the alleged manager of the drug distribution network, led the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF) and investigators with the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor to identify a packaging mill located at Loring Place North.
According to prosecutors, at around 7 p.m. on Thursday, agents and investigators observed an individual -- later identified as Morillo -- exit the location at Loring Place North carrying a heavy brown bag and place the bag in a livery car.
Surveillance units subsequently followed the livery car away from the location and stopped it in the vicinity of the George Washington Bridge, prosecutors say, adding that the driver of the livery car was identified as Urena and agents allegedly found 80,000 glassines of suspected heroin/fentanyl when they searched the bag.
According to prosecutors, surveillance continued at Loring Place North, where agents and investigators observed a woman, later identified as Yamilka Fermin, exit an apartment, carrying a heavy black bag. When Agents and investigators stopped her, they allegedly recovered about 40,000 glassines and multiple zip lock bags containing loose powder suspected to be heroin/fentanyl.
Afterwards, according to prosecutors, Dariel Fermin, Morillo and two other people left that same apartment. Agents and investigators stopped these individuals and detained them while they obtained a warrant to search the apartment.
At approximately 10:15 p.m., members of NYDETF and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor obtained a court authorized search warrant for the apartment residence. During the search, $25,000 cash was allegedly recovered from two bedrooms of the apartment, as well as all of the packaging equipment and paraphernalia typical of a heroin/fentanyl mill, including strainers, grinders, gloves, stamps and ink pads.
Prosecutors say that upon reviewing the 120,000 heroin/fentanyl filled glassine envelopes seized from the two bags, agents discovered they were stamped with several different brands including a stamp with the word “Coronavirus” next to a biohazard symbol and “24 Black Mamba” (an apparent reference to the death of Kobe Bryant), as well as “Hiroshima,” “Isis,” “Antrax” and “95."
The DEA estimates, according to prosecutors, that the black market value of the suspected heroin/fentanyl at over $1 million. Results of laboratory analysis of the seized narcotics are pending.
Prosecutors say that the “Coronavirus” biohazard and “24 Black Mamba” stamps are associated with multiple fatal overdoses in New Jersey. However, these deaths have not been linked to the packaging mill dismantled in this case.
The DEA, NYPD and New York State Police assisted in the investigation.
“As New York city and the metropolitan area lose thousands of loved ones to coronavirus, six people in the Bronx are charged with mixing and distributing more than a hundred thousand packets of fentanyl and heroin stamped with the name of the deadly virus, trying to capitalize of the pandemic’s lethal reputation,” Brennan said in a statement. “Taking a million dollars’ worth of deadly drugs off the street is critical at this time, when isolation and fear make substance users ever more vulnerable. A team of investigators and attorneys demonstrated remarkable dedication, following investigative leads to this successful conclusion, despite the added dangers of enforcement during a crisis of this magnitude, and I commend them.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea shared similar sentiments.
“There is no place in our city for illegal narcotics that undermine public safety and threaten lives. I thank our detectives, and our federal and local partners, for remaining determined in our mission to protect New Yorkers throughout this Coronavirus crisis,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.