10 nabbed in drug ring bust/’Operation Green Giant’ ends $22 million enterprise

Shown are firearms and drugs found at the Stephens Avenue and Fox Street residences in the Bronx, along with other guns and narcotics obtained with search warrants at other addresses in the Bronx.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of NY

Ten major drug-dealer suspects arrested in the Bronx, as part of a strike force investigation, had been under surveillance while allegedly selling about 6,600 pounds of marijuana worth about $22 million from March 2016 to October 2017.

“As alleged, these defendants conspired to ship millions of dollars’ worth of drugs across the country for eventual sale in New York City,” said Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim.

“Searches of apartments where the defendants allegedly resided uncovered guns and ammunition, multiple kilograms of cocaine, hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and thousands of dollars in cash,” Kim said.

Arrested on Wednesday, October 18, and Thursday, October 19, in multiple raids, the ten suspects then appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan federal court.

Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the arrests were part of “Operation Green Giant,” targeting an organization that allegedly traversed the country with marijuana sent to New York City, with the profit then laundered back to California.

“I commend the good work of the Strike Force, Southern District of New York and our law enforcement partners on these arrests and dismantlement,” Hunt said.

The arrests occurred at 12 locations in the Bronx serving as ‘stash houses’ for drugs, weapons and cash, including sites at Harding Avenue in Throggs Neck, Stephens Avenue in Castle Hill and Fox Street in Hunts Point.

During the execution of search warrants, agents recovered three handguns, one sawed-off shotgun, ammunition, multiple kilograms of cocaine, hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and thousands of dollars in cash.

FedEx, the carrier of choice for the drug dealers, made about 330 overnight deliveries of packages from a San Francisco sender during the last eight months.

The packages containing marijuana were sent to residences and businesses in Manhattan, the Bronx and New Rochelle, according to the indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court.

After the drugs were shipped to New York, the defendants transferred multiple boxes of marijuana per week to several stash houses from which they further distributed the drugs to customers and dealers, according to the indictment.

• Charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and facing a maximum penalty of life in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years, were: Hallil Tabar, 29; Jairo Cienfuegos, 27; William Baez, 31; Henry Rodriguez, 41; Danny Hannah Jr., 48; Starly Hernandez, 30; and Lorne Victoria, 37 (also charged with use of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking).

• Charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and facing a maximum penalty of life in prison, with a mandatory minimum of five years, were: Asmin Hernandez, 27; John Munoz-Garcia, 30; and Kevin Umejei, 25.

With the exception of Starly Hernandez, of California, all other suspects are from the Bronx.

This case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney Office’s narcotics unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Catherine Geddes and Nicholas Folly are in charge of the prosecution.

The DEA’s NY Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the NYPD, Homeland Security Investigations, the NY State Police, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, NY National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department, and NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The strike force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative and part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program.

Reach Reporter Bob Guiliano at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at bguiliano@cnglocal.com.

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