THE BRONX — When a McDonald's night shift manager was busted at the franchise located at 1600 Bruckner Blvd. early Wednesday, the NYPD and federal agents said Frank Guerrero had already sold cocaine eight times to an undercover officer, wrapping the drugs in plastic and placing it in a cookie bag included with a Happy Meal.
Drug customers were allowed inside the fast-food restaurant overnight, police said, even though regular customers could only use the drive-thru.
Guerrero's arrest was just the latest example, police said, of alleged dealers using food or other everyday items to camouflage the criminal side of their work.
Four years ago, on Rosedale Avenue in the Bronx, the parents of two young boys were busted in their Fun World Day Care Center with cocaine stashed in a Big Wheels lunchbox in the fridge and $180,000 in cash hidden with 9-mm guns.
At least 15 children were registered at the day care, which would have been a target for stick-ups.
In May this year, a drug task force in Queens followed a bike rider with a backpack, discovering the bag had $2 million worth of cocaine wrapped as candy.
In late March, agents said they busted a scheme in the Diamond District on West 47th Street in Manhattan. A phony jewelry company based in California was sending kilos of cocaine by Fed Ex to a fake firm.
At the time, DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said "over the past two years Colombian, cocaine cultivation has dramatically increased, reaching record levels of production."
The Diamond District bust set off "alarm bells," he said, that Mexican drug trafficking organizations had increased efforts to funnel cocaine to New Yorkers.
As a matter of fact, DEA cocaine seizures in the New York area increased 600 percent between 2012 and 2016.
For the DEA, it's clear that demand for cocaine is still high in New York, even though most of the attention these last three years has gone to heroin and fentanyl overdoses.