NYC Drug Traffickers Busted for $5M in Narcotics Dubbed ‘COVID-19,' ‘Drop Dead'

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New York City officials boasted a big drug bust Friday that netted $5 million in illegal narcotics and put three alleged "major traffickers" behind bars.

The Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Office released indictment details five days after the three alleged traffickers were picked up and arrested by officials on Sunday. The investigating unit conducting surveillance of the suspects and responsible for their arrests was comprised of members of the DEA, New York State Police, NYPD officers, and city prosecutors.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF) Group T-22 observed each of the men at an address in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx Sunday morning. That's when a series of events led to the arrests of Hector Morillo, Jaime Artiles and Freddy Hernandez-Reyes.

Investigators staked out at the apartment building on Montogermy Avenue allegedly witnessed the three men trafficking drugs out of two separate units at the Bronx residence. Prosecutors say the three were stopped by officers within a roughly 5-hour period Sunday morning.

Reres was allegedly stopped by officers near the George Washington Bridge after driving from the Bronx apartment with a weighted black bag retrieved from Artiles, the officials said Friday. Hours later, the NYDETF Group T-22 witnessed Artiles and Morillo leave "carrying three plastic bags, including one that appeared to contain stamps and glassine envelopes commonly used for branding and packaging individual doses of narcotics," prosecutors said.

The bags allegedly carried 1.5 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl. Additionally, Morillo was in possession of an ID card issued by the Dominican Republic National Investigation; a card he allegedly obtained fraudulently, officials say.

After obtaining search warrants, the team of investigators checked both apartment units on Montogermy Avenue and recovered roughly four kilograms of narcotics in brick and power form. The prosecutors say packaging equipment was discovered with stamps branded "Drop Dead" and "COVID-19" with a skull pictured.

In total, officials estimate nearly 40 pounds of heroin and fentanyl were recovered that morning valued at roughly $5 million.

"Our local and federal partners continue to intercept deadly narcotics from harming our communities. This seizure of 40 pounds of heroin and fentanyl has saved lives. The fact that the packagers used “COVID-19” as a brand name illustrates the callousness of these alleged traffickers, as opioid overdose deaths surged during the pandemic," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in Friday's release.

Morillo and Reyes, both of the Bronx, and Artiles, of Orange, New Jersey, were all charged with several trafficking and controlled substance possession charges. They were arraigned Friday before a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice.

Attorney information for the three men was not immediately known.

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