DEA seizes $12M worth of heroin in Queens drug den, nabs ring leader and others
DEA agents busted a major drug trafficker and seized more than $12 million worth of heroin, 1,000 fentanyl pills, and $200,000 in cash from a Queens drug mill, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Luis Martinez is accused of running the sprawling drug packaging mill in Ridgewood, where he employed Sofia Medina, Maria Altagracia Berroa, and Jacqueline Sosa de Espinal to help run his large-scale trafficking operation, Manhattan prosecutors said.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan described the setup as “a highly sophisticated heroin mill in the heart of Queens.”
“This drug den contained nearly $12 million dollars’ worth of narcotics and was like an opioid landmine capable of dispersing hundreds of thousands of heroin doses throughout [the] Northeast,” Donovan said in a statement.
Agents arrested Martinez walking down the street in Ridgewood around 4 p.m. Monday wearing a backpack containing four cell phones and more than $200,000 in cash, according to court filings.
Upon arriving at the second-floor apartment on Forest Ave. near Bleecker St., one of Martinez’s employees answered the door. Authorities found Sosa de Espinal and Berroa hiding in the bathroom with the lights off.
Two bedrooms in the apartment were set up for packaging heroin, prosecutors said. In one, agents found 31 kilogram-sized brick packages wrapped in duct tape allegedly containing heroin. They also discovered an additional 6 kilos of loose powder inside plastic containers and bags.
Glassine envelopes emblazoned with various brand names, like “Red Scorpion,” “The Hulk,” “Universal,” “Hard Target,” “Last Dragon, “Dope” and “Venom” were also discovered in the den.
“The shuttering of an assembly line able to pump out millions of street-ready heroin packages and deadly counterfeit fentanyl pills will save lives across New York City and our entire region,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a statement.
“The volume of lethal drugs flooding our city is causing a record number of overdose deaths. This investigation succeeded because of the expertise and cooperation of our federal and local partners.”
Martinez is charged with operating as a major trafficker, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and other related charges. He was ordered held on $750,000 cash bail.
His employees face charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and using drug paraphernalia. Medina’s bail was set at $400,000 cash, Berroa’s at $220,000 cash and Sosa de Espinal’s at $200,000 cash.