Nearly two dozen drug traffickers with ties to El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel allegedly smuggled heroin and fentanyl from Mexico to the Bronx — drugs that ended up being sold on the streets in $10 packets, authorities said Wednesday.
A 20-month multi-agency investigation recovered a more than 50-pound shipment of fentanyl in Chicago before it could reach the Bronx, the borough’s DA Darcel Clark said at a press conference announcing the indictments of 22 defendants.
The massive stash of the deadly synthetic opioid is believed to have originated from the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, which was headed by notorious druglord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. It was recovered on Feb. 8 — four days before Guzman’s conviction on drug-trafficking charges.
The alleged drug runners, who range in age from 28 to 76, are facing more than 500 counts across two indictments.
“The cartel smuggled narcotics coming in by way of San Diego to Los Angeles, then eastbound to Chicago,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan. “New York City is the biggest hub for the northeast.”
Three men — Roberto Gonzalez Franco, of Sinaloa, Mexico; Oscar Alessandro Garcia, of Palmerton, Pennsylvania; and John Doe of the Bronx — face the most serious charges of operating as a major trafficker, which carries a minimum of 15 to 25 years and a maximum of life.
“This organization allegedly spanned street dealers in the South Bronx to significant suppliers in Mexico linked to the Sinaloa cartel,” Clark said. “These indictments charge traffickers whose poison kills an average of 20 Bronxites a month.”
The widespread investigation began with a probe into drug dealing at the McKinley Houses in Morrisania, where one of the defendants, Charlie Rodriguez, allegedly headed a cell that sold glassines of heroine stamped with “PAID” and glassines of fentanyl stamped with “PRICELESS.”
Two others, Kelvin De Leon and Carlos Miguel De Leon, allegedly distributed drugs in University Heights, Kingsbridge Heights and the Concourse sections of the Bronx.
Kelvin De Leon died of a heroin overdose in January, while Carlos Miguel De Leon is among those charged.
The bulk of defendants were arrested in a May 28 raid that also recovered a Mossberg .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle and 189 rounds of ammunition. Sixteen of them have already been arraigned.
Prosecutors said that the majority are US citizens, but at least one of them, Robert Gonzalez Feliz, is a Mexican national who entered the country with a B-1 visa that was supposed to restrict his travel to 75 miles from the border.
Feliz came to the US 15 times between September and February and held meetings with other defendants in the Bronx, Philadelphia and Chicago, prosecutors said.
Another man who was indicted, Jose Jaquez, transported drugs and cash throughout the Bronx in his NYC green cab.
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