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'White China' Fentanyl-Smuggling Ring Busted in Brooklyn, DA Says

By Ben Fractenberg | March 29, 2017 2:11pm
 Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez holds up a bag of furanyl fentanyl while announcing a drug bust in Brooklyn on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez holds up a bag of furanyl fentanyl while announcing a drug bust in Brooklyn on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — More than 30 people were busted for smuggling a new potent form of heroin, dubbed “White China,” from Asia into New York for the last 10 months, officials said Wednesday.

Nigel Maloney, 49, of Phoenix, Arizona, mailed more than $600,000 worth of cocaine and furanyl fentanyl — which can be 50 times stronger than heroin — to Warren Appolon, who sold it out from his home in Jamaica, Queens to Brooklyn distributor Jerome Horton, 47, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office

"Our communities are flooded with heroin, fentanyl and similar synthetic drugs. And these drugs are often even more potent and more dangerous," acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said at a press conference Wednesday. 

"As you all know, the use of heroin and other opioids is reaching crisis levels in New York City. The New York City police department estimates that overdoses have killed 1,350 people in the city last year.” 

NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce added that this was the first time investigators have seen furanyl fentanyl in the city. The drug can be as much as 50 times stronger than heroin often found on the streets and is sold for as little as $7 for a small glassine package.

The synthetic drug is not currently listed as a controlled substance under New York State Law, although it is under federal law. 

The NYPD and prosecutors have not yet connected the new strain to any overdose deaths in the city. 

Several of the 34 people indicted have already been arrested and are facing up to 20 years in prison after being charged with felony criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy.

Opioid Bust Defendants

DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

Investigators uncovered the ring through wiretaps, physical and video surveillance, prosecutors added. 

Furanyl fentanyl was only recently made illegal in China, officials said, and packaged to avoid detection from customs agents. 

The Brooklyn DA also announced a pilot program starting within the next few months to offer those arrested in possession of small amounts of opioids a chance to successfully participate in a rehab program in exchange for charges being reduced or dropped.

The dealers who were busted lived in neighborhoods including East New York, Brownsville, Canarasie, Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg and the East Village, according to prosecutors. 

Buyers often contacted the dealers through phone calls and texts and bought the drugs in vehicles, buildings or on the streets throughout the city, officials added. 

Many of those busted have ties to the Bloods, according to NYPD officials, and four were previously arrested for murder or attempted murder.  

So far, nine of the defendants have been arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court this week and last and either held without bail or given high bail, which has not been posted. 

Appolon's lawyer did not return an immediate request for comment. Attorney details for the other defendants arraigned was not immediately available.