What to Know
- More than 103 lbs of heroin and fentanyl, worth $22 million, were seized during an investigation, officials from the Bronx DA's office said
- 32 people were arrested in connection with the international drug-trafficking scheme
- Bronx DA Darcel Clark will sue the defendants for $10.5 million in profits from the alleged drug enterprise, officials said
Millions of dollars in heroin and fentanyl were seized during the arrest of 32 people involved in an international drug trafficking ring, officials from the Bronx District Attorney's office said Friday.
The defendants are charged in a 72-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, operating as a major trafficker and and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Officials said 22 were arrested, 10 have been arraigned, and two were jailed.
Authorities say if convicted of operating as a major trafficker, the defendants could face life in prison.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said the 5,200-mile operation involved the transportation of more than 103 pounds of opioids worth $22 million from Honduras, through Mexico, to California, where long-haul drivers would pick up the goods and transport them to New York in tractor-trailers carrying legitimate cargo.
Police determined that he, Viannet Espinal, 39, and Joel Velazquez, 27, were supplying the drugs involved in the wholesale trafficking network.
Officials said Jose Alvarez, 37, allegedly arranged transportation for the drugs to be brought into the country. Surveillance cameras allegedly show Alvarez selling drugs at his family's Fordham Road eatery, Celia's Restaurant.
NYPD officers and DEA agents began arresting the defendants Tuesday after they confiscated $32,420 from his apartment in Fort Lee, officials said.
The joint investigation between the Bronx DA's Office, the NYPD and the DEA began last February, when the NYPD's Bronx Gang Squad began probing crack cocaine sales in the Concourse neighborhood.
Brothers Steven Rivera, 40, and Daniel Rivera, 34, allegedly arranged the transactions and supplied drugs to street dealers Juan Santiago, 22, Kareem Hogan, 36, Antoin Ramirez, 35, and Harvey Gonzalez, 54, authorities said.
DA Clark announced that her office will sue the defendants for $10.5 million in currency and property, the alleged proceeds of the drug ring during the eight-month investigation.