Police have charged a pair of men who allegedly picked up a dog and a million dollars of heroin hidden inside the dog’s crate from a cargo terminal at JFK Airport last weekend, prosecutors announced on Monday.
Samuel Seabrooks, 35, of the Bronx and Carlos Betancourt-Morales, 27, of Carmel, NY face first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy charges after police found 10 kilos (more than 22 pounds) of heroin concealed in the dog crate they obtained — along with an Avi Labrador — shipped to JFK from Puerto Rico on March 24.
“It’s alleged that man’s best friend was used in an attempt to smuggle drugs into the city, but great police work led to the seizure,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.
Law enforcement sources said the trouble began at 6 p.m. on March 24, when Seabrooks and Betancourt-Morales allegedly met up an an IHOP restaurant in the Bronx. After a short meeting, they traveled in separate vehicles to the American Airlines Priority Parcel Services station at JFK Airport.
When they arrived there at 7 p.m., prosecutors said, the two men conversed briefly, then Betancourt-Morales went into the cargo building. He then allegedly signed an American Airlines cargo air waybill receipt to pick up a crate containing an Avi Labrador mix dog; the crate was weighed at approximately 86 pounds.
Police stopped Betancourt-Morales after he was observed wheeling the dog crate on a cart on his way out of the building.
Law enforcement agents obtained and then executed a search warrant of the crate on March 25, in which they detected that the crate had a false bottom. They opened the bottom and allegedly found inside of it 10 bricks of heroin, packed tightly in dark and clear plastic wrap, containing stamps with the Nike swoosh logo and a five-pointed star.
“This amount of heroin, when distributed at the street level, would jeopardize numerous lives and undoubtedly contribute to other crime,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “No matter how, or from where, you traffic illegal drugs into New York City, you will be tracked down and prosecuted through these coordinated enforcement operations.”
Both Seabrooks and Betancourt-Morales were arraigned on Sunday night, March 26, and ordered held on $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash, Brown said. They are scheduled to return to court on April 10 and face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted.
The NYPD Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and the Drug Enforcement Administration, conducted the investigation.