ICE New York, NYPD dismantle major heroin, cocaine trafficking organization

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NEW YORK — Twenty-one individuals were indicted Wednesday following an extensive joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  Eleven of those individuals were arrested in a takedown Dec. 20.

The 21 listed in the indictment are being charged with a variety of criminal offenses including: first, second and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance; first, second and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; second and fourth-degree conspiracy; and other related charges. Two individuals, Mario Martinez, 46, of the Bronx and Joan Velez, 36, of the Bronx, have been indicted for operating as major traffickers, moving major narcotics throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Each face a maximum of 25 years to life in prison if convicted of that charge. 

These individuals are alleged to have trafficked large quantities of highly addictive drugs through our local communities and into our surrounding states,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “Our neighborhoods have been plagued with opioid addictions, and we will continue joint law enforcement efforts with the NYPD in order to rid our streets of the dealers and traffickers of these deadly drugs.”

“These narcotics traffickers operated an organized criminal network through which major quantities of illicit and potentially deadly drugs infected the streets of the Bronx during a period in which opioid-related deaths have been reaching epidemic levels. Through major cases like this one, the NYPD, along with our law enforcement and prosecution partners, continues to focus on the source and supply of illegal drugs and together we are committed to bring these criminals to justice," said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

“Through the efforts of a year-long joint investigation, we have dismantled a major drug organization and charged the defendants with over 100 counts of various serious charges. Two of the defendants are charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker and could face life behind bars. The defendants allegedly peddled heroin and cocaine throughout the Bronx, spreading their operation to two other states. We will go wherever our investigation leads to make our borough safe and with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to pursue and prosecute those doing harm to our communities,”  said the Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark.

According to the 12-month wiretap investigation by HSI’s Violent Gang Unit (VGU), the NYPD Bronx Gang Squad, and the Bronx DA’s Special Investigations Bureau and Criminal Enterprise Bureau, defendants Mario Martinez and Joan Velez worked together to obtain and distribute narcotics. The defendants resold the narcotics throughout the Bronx and New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Several of the defendants allegedly sold drugs along West Burnside Avenue in the 46th Precinct.

During the investigation, authorities seized over 10 kilograms of heroin, packaged in bricks and thousands of glassines, as well as various quantities of cocaine and crack-cocaine, $20,000 in cash and three firearms.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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