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Cops score with Valentine Ave heroin bust

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Bronx narcotics officers are feeling good after busting up a major heroin ring on Monday night, July 26, that yielded them $1.5 million worth of cold cash, heroin, guns, and jewelry.

In a press conference Tuesday, July 27, Bronx D.A. Robert Johnson announced the execution of 15 search warrants and 31 arrests of alleged members of the Latin Kings gang that were involved in a heroin distribution ring in Fordham.

The main distribution area of the heroin was on Valentine Avenue between 194th and 196th streets. However, the same group was selling at 157th Street and Gerard Avenue, as well as at 180th Street and Mohegan Avenue.

Running the entire operation were allegedly four leaders of the La Perla Organization. All four are being charged as “drug kingpins,” meaning that they were major traffickers and ran the operations from off the streets, not merely as dealers. Those four are: Wilson Guerrero, 48, of 1023 Tiffany Street; Antonio Carasquillo, 51, of 1405 Rosedale Avenue; Enrique “Rick” Esquillin, 45, of 2194 Barnes Avenue; and Luis “Gabe” Esquillin, 47, of 295 Main Street, New Rochelle.

These men have been charged with enterprise corruption, operating as a major drug trafficker, conspiracy in the 2nd degree, and criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

They could face a life sentence in prison.

“Although there has been a great deal of progress over the last couple of decades fighting drugs in the Bronx, the plague is not totally absent,” said Johnson, standing before a dramatic visual display of cash stacks, heroin bags, and guns.

“We amassed this force almost on a minute’s notice yesterday. We weren’t even planning the operation for that day, but we got information we felt we had to act on right away,” he said of a successful sting that was the result of nine months’ work, including wiretaps, of the Bronx Gangs task force and NYPD Major Case bureau.

The spontaneous searches brought in 24 of 42 men and women that the team investigating this know to be involved in what the NYPD was calling Operation “King of Hearts.”

Of those 42 people, nine men were considered to be in the top ranks, and only one is still on the lam. Six were working in the stash house, two doing security, three ran supplies, three were dealing heroin out of East 157th Street and Walton Avenue, and nineteen were common street workers, peddling the drugs.

Of the 18 dealers not yet in custody, one of the investigating officers remarked at the press conference, “It’s only a matter of time for them. We got their money and guns, so, where are they going to go?”

In the distribution ring, heroin was sold in glassine packets — thousands a day — stamped with the street names La Perla, Tuna, Salsa, or Sabroso.

Johnson concluded that the next step would be to help the addicts that were relying so tragically on this drug day in and day out.

“We try diligently to weed out who was out there because of a substance abuse problem, and who were the kingpins making money off this,” he said.

“We need to reach young people before they hit this stage of addiction.”

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