THE BRONX — They were allegedly buying dime bags of what they thought was heroin, scraping together the money to purchase it by recycling cans and bottles.
Instead, the small glassine envelopes they bought were often filled with pure fentanyl, the deadly opioid that is killing Americans with lightning speed.
The product was called “Pray for Death,” and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and NYPD busted six men this week in the Bronx operation, who were allegedly doing business at a recycling site they turned into an “open air” drug market, a few blocks from Fordham University.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said one suspect, Billy Perez, was supplying street dealers with the dangerous doses.
The dealers were then preying on customers at the recycling collection site at Marion Avenue and 194th Street in the Fordham Manor section of the Bronx.
In one surveillance image, a man accused of being a street dealer, Stanley Sacarillo, is seen selling two glassine envelopes to a customer who snorts both of them and then begins to overdose. Authorities say Sacarillo can be seen checking the overdose victim’s pulse and then carrying him around the corner.
A 911 call summons an ambulance to the site and the customer, who had snorted fentanyl, is successfully revived.
“The highest overdose rates in the city were recorded in neighborhoods such as the one this drug crew called home, the Fordham Manor section of the Bronx,” said James Hunt, special agent in charge of the New York DEA.
The investigation into the operation began in April 2017. The market within the confines of the 52nd Precinct, which encompasses neighborhoods with some of the highest overdose rates in the city. New York experienced a 46 percent increase in overdose deaths in 2016, more than 1,300 — a record — and many of those deaths were attributed to fentanyl, a man-made opioid that is very cheap to produce.
Undercover NYPD officers were able to make repeated buys at the drug site, buying $10,000 worth of heroin and fentanyl.