Law enforcement agents blew a hole through a lucrative drug mill operated out of an Ozone Park apartment, arresting three ringleaders and seizing 44 pounds of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl worth an estimated $4 million, prosecutors announced Friday.
The sting operation was the result of a months-long investigation into drug distribution operating out of an apartment in Ozone Park, Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City Bridget Brennan said on Jan. 8.
Agents with the DEA New York Drug Enforcement Task Force made the arrests and recovery in two seizure operations conducted on Dec. 15 and 16, 2020. Along with the illegal powder, they also recovered firearms — including a loaded AK-47 rifle.
Two of the suspects were picked up on Jan. 7: Terry Barbour, 47, of Queens and Jamal Johnson, 50, of Brooklyn. A third defendant — Perry Funchess, 56, of Brooklyn — was taken into custody on Dec. 15.
“The 44 pounds of lethal fentanyl, heroin and cocaine, and two guns we took off the streets in this investigation, could have claimed many lives,” said Brennan, referring to the recent rise in drug overdose deaths nationwide.
Fentanyl, which is often mixed into heroin by drug processors, is also known to be up to 50 times more lethal than the opiate.
“Fentanyl is a major factor, tragically claiming the lives of those struggling with substance use in isolation during the pandemic, when supportive services are less available,” Brennan added. “Investigations targeting large-scale fentanyl traffickers have never been more crucial.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz noted that the 80th Street drug mill is located in the heart of a residential community, “just blocks from two schools.”
Members of the task force had the location under surveillance on the afternoon of Dec. 15, 2020, when they spotted Barbour carrying chairs and a folding table into the apartment. He left and returned two hours later with Funchess, who subsequently was seen leaving the location while toting a black duffel bag and a gray backpack.
Prosecutors said Funchess placed the bags into the trunk of an Infiniti Q70 sedan and sped away. The agents and officers then followed him to another home on 79th Street, across from Bayside Cemetery, where they moved in.
After apprehending Funchess, the law enforcement agents searched the bags and recovered two bricks of suspected fentanyl and heroin, weighing more than 16 pounds, as well as more than 50,000 individual dose glassine bags containing the powder.
They also recovered eight kilograms of cocaine and crack cocaine, as well as the loaded AK-47 and a loaded .380-caliber pistol.
The next morning, prosecutors said, law enforcement agents executed a court-authorized search of the 80th Street apartment, finding and recovering 1 1/2 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, four presses designed for compacting narcotics, and various drug packaging and processing equipment.
Barbour and Funchess were variously charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, while Johnson was booked for criminal possession of a controlled substance.