WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A drug bust uncovered about 60 pounds of heroin and crystal meth with a combined street value of more than $12.5 million in two neighborhood apartments this week, authorities said.
Three men were arrested and charged with criminal possession of controlled substances in the Monday afternoon raid, carried out by the New York Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the Drug Enforcement Administration at 111 Wadsworth Ave. The bust was the result of a long-term investigation into what officials called a "sophisticated drug trafficking ring" that stretched from Washington Heights to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and beyond.
Investigators observed the three men — Pablo Paulino, Janeison Garcia and Pedro Abreu — for several days as they repeatedly entered and left the building carrying bags, prosecutors said.
Paulino and Garcia were arrested as they got in a cab outside the building Monday afternoon, and then officials used a search warrant to gain access to apartment 21E, where they found Abreu.
A search of the apartment revealed 17 pounds of crystal meth hidden in a compartment behind the bathroom wall that was accessible only by removing four tiles, authorities said.
Also uncovered was a drug ledger, 100 grams of heroin, several cellphones and $120,000 in cash that was hidden in safe, prosecutors said. Officials found shoe soles that had been ripped out of women's shoes, a tactic that officials said is commonly used to traffic narcotics. Officials also found electrical bills for apartment 10E in the same building.
Once they obtained a search warrant for the second apartment, officials found 24 pounds of heroin in brick form hidden in a trap in a kitchen cabinet that was only visible after the shelves of the cabinet had been removed, prosecutors said. Officials also found 11 pounds crammed between a mattress and bed spring, 5 pounds of heroin hidden behind the bathroom medicine cabinet, 2 more pounds tucked away in a TV stand, packaging materials and a kilo press that compresses the drugs into bricks.
The front door of the apartment was armed with cameras that recorded activity in the hallway and fed the video to a monitor mounted above the door inside the apartment and to a DVR for recording, prosecutors said.
Paulino and Abreu, from Washington Heights and The Bronx, were being held without bail. Garcia, from Orlando, Fla., was being held on $250,000 bail.
Information about their lawyers was not immediately available.