Authorities Bust ‘Opioid Landmine’ Worth Roughly $12 Million

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Law enforcement officials busted a massive heroin-packaging mill in Queens that had a stockpile of drugs worth approximately $12 million, authorities announced Wednesday.

The New York Offices of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security Investigations, and local and state police busted four individuals Monday evening in Queens.

Authorities say Luis Martinez was overseeing a drug packaging mill inside his apartment. Martinez faces charges of Operating as a Major Trafficker, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Third Degrees, and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree.

Martinez allegedly employed three women, who were all charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Third Degrees and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree.

“Monday evening, we dismantled a highly sophisticated heroin mill in the heart of Queens,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said in a statement. “This drug den contained nearly $12 million dollars’ worth of narcotics and was like an opioid landmine capable of dispersing hundreds of thousands of heroin doses throughout Northeast.”

The DEA said they saw Martinez walking down the street Monday evening carrying a backpack. Agents approached Martinez and found the bag had approximately $200,000 in cash. (RELATED: US Citizens Allegedly Attempted To Smuggle Nearly $1 Million Worth Of Narcotics Across The Border)

Agents then investigated the apartment and found that one room was set up for heroin packaging. Officers found 31 pressed, brick shaped packages wrapped in duct tape that each contained a kilogram of heroin. Officers also discovered an additional six kilograms of loose powder in containers and zip-lock bags.

There were also approximately 100,000 individual doses – “glassine envelopes filled with heroin” – on a nearby table, and equipment to process and package heroin in the room. The equipment included digital scales, sifters and grinders, according to the press release.

Agents also seized roughly 1,000 pills suspected to be counterfeit blue bills containing fentanyl.

“The shuttering of an assembly line able to pump out millions of street ready heroin packages and deadly counterfeit fentanyl pills will save lives across New York City and our entire region,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said in a statement. “The volume of lethal drugs flooding our city is causing record number of overdose deaths.”

Heroin and fentanyl smuggling is a major issue in the U.S. Several weeks ago, over $650,000 worth of heroin was seized by Customs and Border Protection Officials in Texas. In 2018, a woman was caught smuggling enough fentanyl to kill roughly 1.5 million.