Two arrested in $14M heroin bust in Jackson Heights

By Bill Parry

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) is applauding law enforcement for a huge drug bust in his district last week.

A pickup truck carrying 100 pounds of heroin worth more than $14 million was seized and two men were arrested Jan. 26 in Jackson Heights, according to the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office.

A joint task force working under the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration was conducting surveillance in the vicinity of Northern Boulevard and 84th Street, as part of an ongoing investigation into heroin distribution organizations operating in the Northeast.

Around 8 p.m., agents observed two pickup trucks with North Carolina license plates driving slowly and circling blocks several times. After approaching the vehicles and identifying themselves, agents were alerted to the presence of drugs by trained search dogs and two natives of Guatemala were taken into custody, according to Special Narcotics officials.

During a subsequent search, the heroin was found encased inside a car axle casing that was in the bed of one of the pickup trucks. The heroin was pressed into round shapes to fit into the axle casing, according to the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office.

“Time and time again, drug dealers are finding ingenious ways to stash large amounts of controlled substances,” Peralta said. “And time and time again, law enforcement agencies are able to catch them.”

The DEA estimated that the black market value of the drugs is at least $14 million.

The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor is charging Peter Omar Garcia-Romero and Juan Guadencio Lantan-Vela with one count each of conspiracy and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The defendants entered the United States on a travel visa on Jan. 15.

“In this particular case, we are fortunate that the authorities took 100 pounds of heroin off the streets,” Peralta said. “I want to congratulate federal, state and local authorities that made this historic bust possible, as it was one of the biggest heroin seizes in our city.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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