The stash was discovered by a contractor who arrived at the boarded up single family home on 88th Road on May 30 following the sale of the property. After stumbling upon large quantities of illicit narcotics and guns out in the open, he proceeded to call 911 and take pictures of the significant stockpile before leaving to relay his findings to the NYPD.
“[Fentanyl] is an extremely dangerous drug and the fact that it’s happening on such a quiet street with no indication of what was going on is very disturbing,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz at a Nov. 1 press conference, while displaying a “fraction” of what was seized, with the fentanyl sitting on the table double bagged.
Victor Rodriguez, 43, was arraigned Oct. 27 on a 112-count indictment that included three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, 26 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and 39 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.
A dozen loaded guns, ranging from a revolver to semi-automatic pistols, and over 200 rounds of assorted ammunition were also seized during the search.
Authorities suspect that Rodriguez had been operating out of the house for the past two years. They say that the home had been empty for about five years.
Shortly after the contractor reported his finding to the 105th Precinct, Rodriquez was seen running to and from the property with two coolers in his hand. According to photos taken by the contractor, the coolers appeared to contain 15 kilos of a powdery white substance.
During a court-authorized search the next day, police uncovered approximately 1.5 million glassine envelopes containing either heroin or fentanyl, or a mix of the two, with a street value of approximately $10 million. Separately, eight kilos of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl with a street value of approximately $500,000 was also found inside the residence.
Inspector Igor Pinkhasov, the commanding officer of the 105th Precinct, said upon arriving at the abandoned house, the first thing he saw was two kids playing stickball next door on the residential block. And after entering, he recounted seeing an open suitcase containing “bundles and bundles of heroin” on the floor.
In the basement, which was set up as a lab, three kilo presses typically used to mix fentanyl with cocaine or heroin were discovered. Two respirator masks believed to be worn during the packaging of narcotics only added to their certainty that the house was being used to process large amounts of illicit drugs for smaller scale distribution. The DNA of the defendant was also found on the masks.
Police uncovered five complete ghost gun kits and finished frames that were in the process of becoming operable firearms. A Dremel drill used to assemble the ghost guns and 25 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices were also found.
“One can’t even calculate how many lives would have been cut short or ruined by the millions of dollars worth of lethal narcotics and deadly weapons that were found. What we do know for certain is that our families, friends and neighborhoods are all safer thanks to this massive seizure,” Katz said. “We cannot and will not relent in the fight to get drugs and guns off our streets. We will prosecute any and all involved in this deadly trafficking.”
Katz pointed out that in Queens County, fentanyl is responsible for 72% of overdoses. Half of those are people are over the age of 50.
“I’d like to thank that citizen who followed what we ask every day. If you see something say something,” said NYPD Commanding Officer Kevin Williams of Queens Patrol South.
If convicted Rodriguez faces 25 years to life in prison. He will return to court on Nov. 6.
“At the forefront of our public safety mission is holding accountable anyone who displays the depravity to sell these deadly poisons on our streets,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “I commend and thank the NYPD officers from the 105th Precinct and our Intelligence Bureau, along with everyone involved at the office of the Queens District Attorney, for their tireless efforts on this important case.”