NEW YORK — A drug dealer who was busted with enough heroin to get every single person in New York City high was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Authorities seized 70 kilograms of heroin and $2 million when they arrested Jose ‘Hippie’ Mercedes in May of 2015. The drugs, with a street value of $50 million, was the largest heroin seizure in the city’s history.
Despite the large amount, officials called the 70 kilograms seized just “the tip of the iceberg.” Mercedes ran a heroin network from Mexico to New York, court documents show. He distributed hundreds of kilograms of heroin before his arrest.
Mercedes employed several family members in his operation, officials said. They would transport narcotics across state lines, package the drugs and register vehicles and apartments under dummy names for Mercedes.
One day before Mercedes trial was set to begin, he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance. He’ll spent 14 years behind bars followed by five years of post release supervision.
“No prison sentence could possibly compensate the thousands from every community who have lost loved ones to heroin addiction, but l hope this lengthy sentence and our successful investigation will serve as a warning to traffickers who try to use our city as their headquarters,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said.