THE BRONX — Authorities are detailing the great lengths suspected drug smugglers went to in order to conceal their operation after $4.1 million in cash and more than six pounds of heroin were seized by federal agents at a New York storage facility over the weekend.
Three men were arrested for their part in what officials are calling an interstate drug operation, where they allegedly moved money and drugs throughout the country by concealing the contraband in secret compartments hidden inside pieces of furniture.
The men were arrested after federal agents observed them allegedly moving several pieces of furniture in and out the Bronx storage facility on Saturday. The bust was the culmination of a long-term investigation into the operation, that was centered on the storage unit, registered to one of the men.
Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, was proud of the efforts of all involved with the investigation and arrests.
“The potential toll on human lives represented by this amount of drug money, carefully packaged and hidden in hydraulic compartments for interstate traffickers, cannot be measured,” Brennan said in a statement. “This investigation demonstrates how lucrative and highly organized the lethal narcotics trade has become.”
According to Brennan’s press release, the three men moved the heroin from Texas to sell in New York and Lawrence, MA, a city 30 miles north of Boston. Authorities believe the suspects would send the money back to Texas concealed inside the same furniture.
Along with contraband-filled furniture inside the storage unit, authorities discovered similarly modified pieces of furniture inside a U-Haul truck as well as a Dodge Caravan outfitted with a secret compartment in the floor. Inside the minivan’s glove box, officials also found a bottle of fox urine, that officials say, was used to mask the smell of narcotics.
“The organization thought of every detail, from adding a tricycle to their stash of furniture in order to appear like a relocating family, to spraying the content with repellant to ward off police K-9 units,” DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said. “By seizing this money, law enforcement has denied Mexican drug traffickers over $4 million of profit off their poison.”
The three men were charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Third Degrees and arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, according to Brennan’s press release. Bail for each was set between $750,000 and $4,000,000.
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill applauded the partnership between the federal and local authorities involved in the bust. “This type of precision enables us to prevent crime and overdoses, saving lives,” O’Neill said.