Black Market Pill Distribution Operation Working Out of NYC Apartment Busted: Prosecutors - NBC New York

Black Market Pill Distribution Operation Working Out of NYC Apartment Busted: Prosecutors

The building super let two alleged members of the ring use an apartment and boiler room to make and package heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine pills, prosecutors said

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    Black Market Pill Distribution Operation Working Out of NYC Apartment Busted: Prosecutors
    New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force
    The pill press seized by prosecutors, left, and some of the pills seized by prosecutors, right.

    What to Know

    • A building super let two alleged members of a pill distribution ring use an apartment and boiler room to make and package pills

    • The pills contained heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine, according to prosecutors

    • The two men and the building super were arrested after an undercover operation, prosecutors said

    A building superintendent let two alleged members of a “large-scale black market pill distribution ring” use a vacant studio apartment and boiler room to make and package heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine pills, prosecutors said.

    An undercover officer met up with the suspected ring members, Agustin Vasquez-Chavez and Yefri Hernandez-Ozoria, in the Jerome Park neighborhood of the Bronx on July 31 of this year, where the officer paid them $5,000 in cash for a bag they said contained more than 860 oxycodone pills and 50 ecstasy pills, the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York said.

    When the Drug Enforcement Administration tested the purported oxycodone pills, however, it discovered they actually contained a “dangerous mixture” of heroin and fentanyl, prosecutors said. The so-called ecstasy pills, meanwhile, contained pure methamphetamine, according to prosecutors.

    The same undercover officer met the two men again on Sept. 11 in the Bronx. The men had planned to sell the officer 3,000 “oxycodone” pills in exchange for $20,000, but were instead arrested at the scene, prosecutors said.

    Officers seized the pills, which looked like the ones the men had sold the undercover officer in July, but the results of their lab test are still pending, according to prosecutors.

    After the two alleged ring members were arrested, law enforcement officials learned they’d been making the pills using a pill press machine tucked away in the boiler room of a five-story building on Morris Avenue, in the Fordham Heights section of the Bronx, prosecutors said.

    The building’s super, Roberto Castillo, was the only one who had access to the boiler room, which could be accessed by passing through a vacant studio apartment in the building, according to prosecutors.

    Investigators conducted a search of the studio and boiler room area and discovered “a pill manufacturing operation complete with pill press machine, pill press imprints designed to create oxycodone marking soaking in liquid, multiple surgical masks and a vacuum sealer” in a bathroom, prosecutors said.

    A refrigerator in the space was filled with drug paraphernalia, and a suitcase in the living room contained thousands of pills, in addition to powdered and crystallized substances that were found to contain a mix of heroin and fentanyl, and methamphetamine, respectively.

    “Approximately 1,000 pills bore the appearance of counterfeit oxycodone pills, identical to heroin/fentanyl pills sold to the undercover [officer],” prosecutors said.

    Castillo was arrested and charged with conspiracy in the second degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first, second and third degrees, according to prosecutors.

    Vasquez-Chavez and Hernandez-Ozoria face charges including conspiracy in the second degree and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first and second degrees, prosecutors said.

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