Cops Bust International Drug Ring That Employed Long Haul Truck Driversby Jana Ritter - Published: 2/06/2017
Last week authorities busted a major international drug ring operated by Bronx drug dealers who employed long-haul truckers to transport heroin and fentanyl from Honduras and Mexico to Los Angeles, and then to New York. Prosecutors say the drugs were hidden in trucks carrying legitimate cargo. So far, 32 people have been arrested for their various roles in the operation.
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The investigation, “Operation Open Market,” began last February when the NYPD's Bronx Gang Squad began cracking down on what they thought was a smaller scale street crack ring in the borough's Concourse neighborhood. According to the Bronx’s DA Office, investigators quickly discovered that two brothers were in charge of the operation and it was much bigger than they originally thought. They uncovered a major trafficking network involving heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, and discovered that customers were coming from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and other states to purchase the drugs. The dominos began to fall when authorities began arresting people after they picked up drugs from the Bronx neighborhood location. While brothers Steven and Daniel Rivera allegedly ran the ring, investigators also allege that Jason Alvarez supplied it and conducted negotiations operating from his family’s neighborhood restaurant. Alvarez is also accused of being the person who arranged to have truck drivers transport the drugs from Honduras to the east coast.
“The heroin and fentanyl would originate in Honduras and then travel through Mexico to Los Angeles, at which point different truck drivers would pick it up and take it to the New York area in tractor-trailers also carrying legal cargo,” officials said.
After arresting a defendant in late December, carrying a kilogram of fentanyl, investigators then learned that two truck drivers would be picking up shipments in mid-January in Los Angeles. When one of the trucks arrived at the Bronx location days later, officers found 10 kilos of heroin in a wheel well and that led to the investigation's "finale" crackdown. NYPD and DEA officers began carrying out search warrants, arresting a total of 32 people and confiscating more than $50,000 in cash and three Mercedes Benz vehicles in the process.
Bronx District Attorney, Darcel Clark, says that in 2015, the Bronx had the highest rate of deaths from heroin overdoses throughout New York City and she has heard countless stories from people who have been directly affected by the increasing epidemic. "I've been to every community board and many other neighborhood associations, and no matter what age or socioeconomic, racial or ethnic background of the residents, whether they live in private homes or public housing, they tell me of a relative or friend that they lost to overdosing on heroin and other opioids," she said.