Mexico-NY Drug Pipeline Busted; $2.3 Million in Heroin Seized From Tractor-Trailer - NBC New York

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

Mexico-NY Drug Pipeline Busted; $2.3 Million in Heroin Seized From Tractor-Trailer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hidden Heroin Discovery Leads to Big Bust in Westchester Co.

    Two men were arrested after Investigators found 65 pounds of heroin hidden in a truck axle in Croton-on-Hudson. Wale Aliyu reports. (Published Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016)

    What to Know

    • Wiretap investigation reveals Mexico-New York heroin pipeline

    • Two alleged narcotics traffickers allegedly rented a large home in Westchester County to use as a stash house

    • The amount of heroin recovered from their tractor-trailer would have yielded well more than half a million individual doses, prosecutors say

    Two men were arrested after authorities say they found more than 65 pounds (at least 30 kilograms) of heroin hidden in the axle of a truck's trailer that the suspects allegedly intended to sell for up to $2.3 million to distributors in New York City, Long Island and across the northeast. 

    The arrests of alleged narcotics traffickers Fernando Quiles, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jorge Ayala, of Greenwich, Connecticut, stem from a three-month wiretap investigation by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Investigators Unit and agents from the DEA’s Long Island District Office Task Force. 

    During the course of that investigation, prosecutors say detectives learned Quiles received tractor-trailer shipments of narcotics from a Mexican-based organization. Those shipments crossed the Texas border and made their way into the New York City area, where Quiles and Ayala allegedly coordinated distribution. 

    The two men were arrested Tuesday near a large single-family home on a private wooded lot in Croton-on-Hudson in northern Westchester County. Prosecutors allege the suspect recently rented the house for the sole purpose of using it as a location to park a tractor-trailer and to stash drugs. 

    The heroin was recovered from the truck Wednesday as investigators executed a search warrant. 

    Bridget Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, said that it took 18 hours to find the drugs using sophisticated equipment.

    "Very likely they were able to roll over the border crossing without detectin," she said.

    In the weeks leading up to the arrests, investigators and agents conducted physical surveillance and intercepted phone calls pursuant to a court order. Investigators and agents determined that the suspects were about to receive a large load of heroin via tractor-trailer. 

    In a phone call between Quiles and Ayala Aug. 13, Quiles stated that he needed a place to park a “trailer for at least one day,” prosecutors say. A week later, Quiles used coded language as he told an associate that the narcotics shipment was due to arrive and that he would “take it out on Tuesday and take it to its destination ... in case it has a tail somewhere,” according to authorities familiar with the case. 

    Quiles was in New York City at the time of these calls. 

    In another conversation, he allegedly talked about wholesale heroin prices and indicated each kilogram could sell for $56,000 or $57,000. The amount of heroin recovered from the truck would have yielded well more than half a million individual doses, prosecutors say. 

    On Aug. 23, Quiles and Ayala met at the alleged stash house and spoke to an individual identified as a truck driver by phone, directing the driver to come to the house. Shortly thereafter, agents and investigators observed a tractor-trailer arrive at the location, at which point the trailer was detached from the rest of the truck and left on the property. 

    Agents and investigators stopped Ayala after he drove away in a car. A search of the car yielded plastic-sealing equipment, plastic packaging materials, keys and a garage opener for the home, along with a device for opening the trailer. There was no furniture in the home, according to prosecutors, just a narcotics ledger book, tools, a scale and packaging materials. 

    Both men face charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy and criminally using drug paraphernalia, among other crimes. They were arraigned Wednesday night and ordered held without bail. 

    Information on attorneys for the men wasn't immediately available.

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