Bomb making materials, an AR-15 equipped with a grenade launcher that was inscribed with the word “havoc” on it, and enough cocaine to overwhelm Scarface were just some of what the Department of Homeland Security and NYPD recovered from the Baychester home of 38-year-old Richard Laugel on Tuesday, May 22.
Laugel, an alleged major drug dealer, was absent during the multi-agency raid on his suspected drug factory and home at 2205 Palmer Avenue.
Law enforcement conducted a “city wide manhunt” and later picked up Laugel in the Bronx “without incident” according to DHS.
Authorities began investigating Laugel in September of 2017 when U.S. Customs agents seized 49 Xanax pills that came through JFK Airport addressed to the Bronx resident.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initially developed the case against Laugel by mining data from Chinese drug shipments, focusing on those from Hong Kong.
DHS and the NYPD became involved in the case subsequently, authorities confirmed.
After a nearly two-year investigation, the collborative agencies connected Laugel to an illegal drug peddling operation and attained the warrant to search his suspected drug and arms den.
The NYPD Bomb Squad was called in out of concern that the suspected drug making chemicals Laugel possessed could create a danger to the surrounding area.
During the raid bomb-making materials similar to fireworks were discovered as well.
Authorities have not yet determined if Laugel had intended on building any explosive devices.
Also recovered from Laugel’s home and garage were: firearms silencers, three handguns, two of which had defaced serial numbers, plastic molds used to make the lower receiver of a handgun, firearms barrels, drill press and milling machines, ammunition, and a teddy bear that contained approximately 30 grams of cocaine.
A former Marine and Iraq veteran, Laugel previously lived at 3030 Middletown Road and had owned Drop and Fold Laundromat at 3021 Middletown Road prior its closure.
One neighbor described Laugel as very quiet.
“Hello and goodbye that was it, we didn’t know much about him, especially anything like this,” said the neighbor.
This isn’t Laugel’s first run-in with the law or explosive weaponry, though.
In 2016 the disgraced Marine allegedly taped a makeshift aerosol pipe bomb under the car of a rival drug dealer on the northeast corner of Mahan and Roberts avenues in Pelham Bay.
However the bomb didn’t go properly when the driver noticed that his tire pressure was low and spotted the detonator.
Laugel was charged with attempted murder, arson and criminal possession of a weapon at the time.
He posted the $100,000 bail and has been walking the streets since.
Laugel’s set trial date for the 2016 charges was ironically Tuesday, May 29, 2018.
Following the major raid, he reported to Federal Court on Monday, June 25 facing new counts of: possession with intent to distribute narcotics, possession of firearms with defaced serial numbers, and the unlawful possession of firearms silencers.
If convicted on just the latest counts, Laugel could do up to 35 years in prison; if additonally convicted on his 2016 charges, he would likely remain in prison for life.