KINGSBRIDGE HEIGHTS, the Bronx (PIX11) – Another drug mill was busted this week in the Bronx, located just six blocks away from the day care where a 1-year-old boy died after he was exposed to fentanyl, Drug Enforcement Administration officials said.

The drug mill was discovered in an apartment at 2800 Heath Ave. in Kingsbridge Heights on Tuesday, according to the DEA. Juan Gabriel Herrera Vargas, 42, was arrested and charged with operating as a major trafficker, criminal possession of a controlled substance, and criminally using drug paraphernalia, authorities said.

Law enforcement officers seized over 40 pounds of fentanyl in the bust. The drugs have an estimated street value of $1.5 million, according to the DEA.

Fentanyl and drug packaging materials were found in a back bedroom in the apartment. A second bedroom had a TV that was connected to a security camera to monitor the apartment, authorities said. Additionally, apartment windows were taped up with large black plastic trash bags to ensure nothing was visible from the outside, a photograph showed.

“Trafficking organizations use these toxic mills to prepare and package bulk drugs into street-ready glassines for distribution for one reason – profit,” said Frank Tarentino, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New York. “Mills lurk throughout our city in apartments, basements or even under floorboards…”

Herrera Vargas was apprehended after law enforcement tracked his movements to the apartment. He allegedly transported nearly 30 pounds of fentanyl bricks in a rolling suitcase in the subway and through the sidewalks in the neighborhood, according to Bridget Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor.

“The conduct charged is shockingly brazen, especially in a city still grieving the overdose death of a young child who lost his life at a nearby day care center,” Brennan said.

Finn Hoogensen is a digital journalist who has covered local news for more than five years. He has been with PIX11 News since 2022. See more of his work here.