New York City DEA agents wrapped up a months-long investigation last week, seizing approximately 28 pounds of alleged heroin — with an estimated street value of approximately $4 million — and three guns from a drug stash house in the North Riverdale section of the Bronx on Thursday.
Harris Wilson Sanchez, 54, and Hinguenbert Deleon, 36, were arrested after evading arrest when DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad New York officials performed a court-authorized search in a third-floor apartment at 5775 Mosholu Ave., and recovered 12 brick-shaped packages and one cylindrical package from a storage container in a bedroom closet.
Both were arrested when they arrived back to the premises at 6 p.m. and were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court over the weekend. Sanchez had an outstanding warrant from the U.S. Marshals Service dating back to 2013.
The men drove off and members of DEA followed, and when officers attempted to stop the SUV, the vehicle sped away.
According to law enforcement, the duo returned to the area shortly after 6 p.m. where members of the Tactical Diversion Squad placed the two men under arrest. Also located in the closet was a metal case containing three pistols, one of them loaded.
Agents and officers recovered a money-counter and more than 200 cartridges of ammunition of various calibers from the bedroom. A kilo press, used in the packaging of narcotics, was also found in the apartment, along with a small quantity of alleged cocaine and some cash.
New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan told the Bronx Times on Monday that the number of guns and ammunition found in the seizure is a disturbing trend of recent busts.
“Historically, we don’t see firearms that often when we do a seizure of this magnitude,” she said. “That suggests that they may have needed for protection, but the scope of the ammunition found has been something noticed as a new trend in these matters.”
As New York City officials continue to address gun safety and the prevalence of gun violence in the five boroughs, Brennan said that an escalating effect of who’s arming themselves and the source of the guns has been a focus for law enforcement.
“There are a lot more guns on the street but understanding where they are coming from is one of the questions that investigators and law enforcement are still trying to figure out,” she said. “The more people are armed, the more people feel they need to be armed for protection so it creates an escalating effect.”
In the hours leading up to the court-authorized search, agents and officers were conducting surveillance in the vicinity of the six-story residential building and surveillance teams observed Sanchez, toting a bag and entering a 2021 Volkswagen Touareg SUV at approximately 3 p.m. Deleon was already inside the vehicle, and agents and officers recognized the pair from more than a month of prior surveillance, during which time the men were seen going in and out of the apartment building.
“Illegal drugs continue to threaten lives at record pace,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “As guns are continually recovered in our investigations, it is evidently clear that gun violence and drug trafficking are two public safety threats that go hand in hand. I applaud the NYC Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad-New York for their hard work to make our streets safer.”
While North Riverdale — a Bronx area with crime rates 49% lower than the national average — is not seen as a regular area for drug busts such as these, Brennan said that there is a tactical component to a stash being located in relatively safe communities.
“We find that people who traffic a high amount of drugs like this are clever and are always looking to escape detection by any means,” she said. “In this case, they may see Riverdale as a safer community with little police activity or also may be looking to get away from people who would be interested in robbing them of $4 million worth of product.”
The results of DEA Laboratory analysis on the narcotics in this case are pending.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at email@example.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.