Ucreview – They weren’t just selling pizza.
Authorities have charged three individuals for operating a drug ring from a pizzeria located in the Bronx. The restaurant was allegedly used to store over 100 pounds of illegal substances which included cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and various other drugs. The seized drugs have an estimated value of around $4 million.
According to a statement released on Monday, Gaudencio Rosendo Perez, Zulema Cardenas Espinoza, and Alexander Samboy, who were facing trafficking charges, were allegedly using Mexzzarella Pizzeria as a façade for their drug dealing activities. The location of the eatery, which was across the street from a public elementary school, made the situation even more concerning.
In the press release, Frank Tarentino, who is the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York division, stated that the drug trafficking organization in the Bronx was involved in more than just making pizza.
According to a statement, during the search of the pizza establishment on October 19, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials discovered 42 kilograms of suspected cocaine, a kilogram of heroin and fentanyl, 1,000 glassine envelopes of Oxycodone and fentanyl, large chunks of cocaine, and roughly 100 vials of crack cocaine.
Officials reported that the toxic trio was under surveillance on the day of the significant bust. They were observed walking in and out of a pizzeria on Soundview Avenue while carrying bags and backpacks.
According to the statement, authorities discovered 5 kilos of cocaine wrapped in black tape and labeled as “R2” during the traffic stop.
Perez and Espinoza were apprehended by agents and task force officers at the pizzeria, as reported.
According to reports, a kilo press and approximately $40,000 were discovered by the police in the basement.
According to authorities, the vials of crack were stored near the pizza counter by the three individuals for the purpose of “convenient sales.”
Officials have estimated that the drugs confiscated had a street value of over $4 million.
According to Tarentino, the discovery of a massive stockpile of cocaine in the basement of Mexzzarella Pizza holds great significance as it had the capacity to fuel drug networks across the Northeastern region. With cocaine being increasingly laced with fentanyl, it has become a major contributor to poisoning and causing unwarranted fatalities not only in New York but throughout the United States.
The statement revealed that Perez, Espinoza, and Samboy are being charged with operating as a major trafficker and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
On Friday, they appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court for their arraignment.
The court ordered Perez to be remanded, while the other two were granted bail at a rate of $150,000 each.
In a statement, Bridget G. Brennan, the NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor, revealed that the lucrative narcotics operation in the Bronx seemed to function as a distributor and wholesaler of cocaine and fentanyl-laced products. Interestingly, the operation was advertised as a budget-friendly Mexican pizza spot, adding a layer of disguise to its illegal activities.
“We will work alongside our federal, state, and local enforcement partners to put an end to the distribution of deadly drugs which caused a significant number of fatalities in our city last year.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses claimed the lives of over 111,000 people in 2022.
Almost 75% of those cases were related to synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl.
According to the Department of Health in New York City, over 3,000 individuals have died due to drug overdoses since the year 2022.
The operation involved the participation of various law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, NYPD, New York State Police, New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, and Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.
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