A Canadian citizen is facing federal drug conspiracy charges for using Rego Park as a home base to allegedly plan to transport narcotics to New York from Texas, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Aurora Betancourt, 35, is facing arraignment on charges of conspiring to distribute, and distribution of, fentanyl. Betancourt was arrested in Colombia on Dec. 28, 2018, and was extradited to the United States on Dec. 18, 2019.
“As alleged in the indictment, Betancourt arranged the transportation of what she and her co-conspirators referred to as heroin, but what was in fact fentanyl, a synthetic opioid substitute even more potent than heroin,” stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “Thanks to the outstanding work by law enforcement officers, Betancourt’s alleged plan to flood our streets with this extremely dangerous drug was thwarted, and she will now face justice for her actions.”
According to charges, in June 2017 Betancourt allegedly conspired with others to transport narcotics from Houston, Texas, for distribution in the New York metropolitan area during a meeting in Rego Park. The conspirators referred to the narcotics as “grasa,” a code for heroin.
DEA agents were allegedly able to seize the drugs in Texas before they were transported. Laboratory testing revealed that the narcotics were actually fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid that can serve as a substitute for heroin and frequently results in overdoses by users. DEA agents allegedly recovered approximately 13 kilos of fentanyl, which at the time was the second largest seizure of fentanyl by the DEA. DEA estimated the street value of the fentanyl in New York at approximately $800,000.
If convicted of either count of the indictment, Betancourt faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.
“Allegedly responsible for attempting to transport 13 kilos of highly addictive fentanyl onto the streets of New York City, Betancourt will now have to answer for her actions that could have resulted in overdoses and deaths in our city,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter Fitzhugh. “Fentanyl has claimed the lives of far too many Americans, and so seizures and arrests like this are an important step to help rid the streets of this deadly epidemic.”