THE BRONX — The super of a Bronx apartment building has been arrested for allegedly turning the boiler room into a factory for fake, potentially deadly painkillers.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and New York City's Special Narcotics Prosecutor joined forces with the New York State Police and Homeland Security to take down Robert Castillo, who worked at 2314 Morris Ave., in the Fordham Heights neighborhood.
Castillo and two other men were indicted in a large-scale operation that was selling black market pills labeled as oxycodone, officials said. The pills were allegedly made with the often lethal, synthetic opioid, fentanyl.
Fentanyl is much cheaper to produce than heroin and other painkillers, and is usually far deadlier.
Agents from the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, Group Z-42, were doing undercover buys back in July near 201st Street and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx when on the 31st, the DEA said an undercover agent bought 860 alleged oxycodone pills from Yefri Hernandez-Ortega and 50 pills of purported ecstasy.
The undercover officer said he gave Hernandez-Ozoria $5,000 in cash.
A test by the DEA laboratory confirmed that the 860 “oxycodone” pills were counterfeit and contained a dangerous mix of heroin and fentanyl. The so-called ecstasy pills were fake, too, and contained pure methamphetamine, which is more addictive than MDMA, the typical ingredient in ecstasy, officials said.
Hernandez-Ozoria and another alleged distributor, Agustin Vasquez Chavez, met the undercover officer by East 164th Street and River Avenue on Sept. 11. They allegedly sold 3,000 fake oxycodone pills for $20,000.
The two men were then arrested.
After the arrests, the DEA received information that the pills were being produced in a five-story apartment building in the Bronx.
They later learned the pills were being manufactured in the boiler room area. Robert Castillo was the superintendent of the building and controlled access to the boiler room.
The only way into the boiler room was through a vacant, studio apartment, officials said.
The agents and officers got permission from the building’s management company to search the boiler room and the vacant apartment on Sept. 11.
They watched surveillance video of the super accessing the boiler room area from an interior court yard, going in and out of a locked door.
Castillo was going into the area with another man, who officials said hasn’t been apprehended yet.
When agents got into the boiler room, they said they discovered a pill manufacturing operation, complete with a pill press machine and pill “imprints” that were going to create the oxycodone marking. There were also allegedly surgical masks and a vacuum sealer inside a bathroom.
In the adjoining living room area, a refrigerator had storage containers filled with substances in different colors. There was drug paraphernalia and cutting agents, grinders and containers.
A suitcase that was found in the living room contained thousands of pills. There was a powdered substance in the suitcase that was approximately 420 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture.
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt noted: “The new threat facing public health and law enforcement is synthetic drugs, because dealers act as mad scientists, producing unregulated concoctions for street sales.”
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said: “Narcotics traffickers have long exploited the nation’s high demand for pain pills, a powerful gateway to addiction. But this investigation reveals an even more deviant scheme."
The three men were expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday.