SOUNDVIEW, the Bronx (PIX11) — A multi-agency task force busted three men for allegedly distributing fentanyl and cocaine from the basement of a Bronx pizzeria and selling crack from the pizzeria’s counter, which is across the street from a public elementary school, authorities said on Monday.
The bust happened Thursday evening near Mexzzarella Pizza on Soundview Avenue. The suspects were charged with distributing fentanyl and cocaine. Four million dollars worth of cocaine, crack, fentanyl, heroin, and oxycodone was seized.
Mexzzarella Pizzeria is located on the same block as PS 69.
Frank Tarentino III, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New York, pointed out that opioids like fentanyl are now involved in nearly 85% of cocaine overdose deaths in the Northeast.
Agents from a task force that included the DEA, NYPD, State Police, Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor, and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office conducted surveillance Thursday morning outside the pizzeria.
At 10:15 a.m., agents said they noticed Guadencio Rosendo Perez and Zulema Cardenas Espinoza arriving in a blue Hyundai sedan before they unlocked the doors of Mexzzarella Pizza. They said Espinoza removed a shopping bag from the sedan that appeared “weighted.”
Nearly two hours later, the team said it observed Alexander Francisco Samboy walking on Soundview Avenue at about 12:07 p.m. with a black and blue North Face backpack that appeared empty.
Soon after, the surveillance teams said they observed Samboy leave the pizzeria with the same backpack, but this time, it appeared weighted down. Samboy allegedly got into a silver Subaru with Connecticut license plates.
Samboy was stopped in front of 788 Metcalf Ave. The New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police K-9 Unit helped agents confiscate 5 kilograms of suspected cocaine. The kilos were wrapped in black tape with a blue and white label that read “R2.”
Surveillance teams who remained at the pizzeria said they observed Perez leave the establishment, using his phone to film vehicles and license plates on Soundview Avenue. At this point, agents and officers approached Perez and Espinoza.
Agents and task force officers then searched Mexzzarella Pizza and said they found 42 kilograms of suspected cocaine, 1 kilo of heroin/fentanyl, 1,000 glassine envelopes containing suspected oxycodone and fentanyl, large rocks of cocaine, a kilo press, and approximately $40,000 in the basement. They said they also recovered 100 vials of suspected crack cocaine and a yellow powdery substance on the ground floor near the pizza counter, allegedly for convenience sales to customers.
The arrests came the same day NYPD officer Grace Rosa Baez was arrested in Yonkers for allegedly selling fentanyl and heroin samples to a paid FBI confidential source.
The arrests were upsetting to a grandmother and school bus driver, who talked about the recent fatal overdose of a toddler at a day care in the Bronx.
The day care fatality spurred city, state, and federal officials to launch increased initiatives aimed at busting drug distributors operating near schools and day cares.