MIDTOWN — Police seized nearly 270 pounds of narcotics worth $30 million during separate busts in Queens and The Bronx, including a record haul of fentanyl, law enforcement officials said Monday.
The first arrest on Aug. 1 led to the largest seizure of fentanyl in city history, with more than 140 pounds of the synthetic opioid recovered in a raid on a Kew Gardens apartment, federal prosecutors said.
Investigators recovered an additional 55 pounds of narcotics after pulling over suspected drug runners on the Major Deegan Expressway near Yankee Stadium on Sept. 5.
“The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking. It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a statement.
In the first case, New Jersey investigators first noticed Queens couple Rogelio Alvarado-Robles, 55, and Blanca Flores-Solis, 51, after they they drove a Mercedes-Benz with Florida license plates into the parking lot of a Walmart in Manahawkin authorities were surveilling on Aug. 1, officials said.
Police then observed Alvarado-Robles take a shopping bag from an unidentified man before walking into the store and putting the bag into a backpack Flores-Solis was carrying.
Investigators trailed the couple, who made several other stops before pulling into the garage of their building at 85-15 120th St. in Kew Gardens. Police then confronted them and found a kilo of cocaine in the backpack. After securing a search warrant for their apartment, authorities found suitcases and a purse holding 140 pounds of fentanyl and more than 48 pounds of fentanyl mixed with heroin, prosecutors said.
Rogelio Alvarado-Robles and Blanca Flores-Solis after their Aug. 1 arrest. (Special Narcotics Prosecutor)
The couple was arrested and charged with various counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
In the second case, narcotics officers were surveilling a Home Depot in Woodbridge, New Jersey, on Sept. 5 when they saw a tractor-trailer with California plates pull into the rear parking lot.
About two hours later, Bronx residents Edwin Guzman, 35, and Manuel Rivera-Santana, 32, were seen walking from the front of the store to the truck and picking up a large duffel bag, which appeared to be “full and heavy,” officials said.
Investigators then tailed the men as they drove in a Toyota Sienna across the George Washington Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway, pulling them over at the West 161st Street exit.
Authorities then got a warrant to search the duffel bag and recovered 55 pounds of pure fentanyl and fentanyl mixed with heroin, according to prosecutors.
The men were arrested and charged with conspiracy and various counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Investigators brought the drugs to an NYPD laboratory, which issued reports last week on the type and exact amount of drugs seized.
Guzman was the only person busted who had a prior arrest, which was for drunk driving on July 24, according to an NYPD spokesman and court records.
He was held on $300,000 bail after being arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on September 11.
Rivera-Santana was also held on $300,000 bail after his arraignment that same day, court records show.
Flores-Solis and Alvarado-Robles were both held without bail after their Sept. 12 arraignments in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Lawyers for all four defendants did not return requests for comment.