Over $1.5 Million in Heroin Seized from a Packaging Mill in Fort Lee, NJ: Drug Workers Transported from New York City
MANHATTAN, NY. - JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor BRIDGET G. BRENNAN (“SNC”) and Passaic County Prosecutor CAMELIA M. VALDES announced today the arrests of 10 members of a narcotics trafficking ring at a heroin packaging mill in Fort Lee, NJ.
The arrests, which took place yesterday afternoon, followed a two-month investigation by the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Investigators Unit and the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (“NYDETF”) – which is comprised of agents and officers from the DEA, New York City Police Department and the New York State Police. The narcotics trafficking organization is suspected of distributing large quantities of heroin throughout the New York metropolitan area and New Jersey. In a court authorized search of the heroin mill, agents seized roughly 2 ½ kilos (5 ½ lbs.) of unprocessed heroin and more than 100,000 user-ready glassine envelopes. Approximately $50,000 in cash was also recovered.
During the investigation, law enforcement officers observed several of the defendants travelling from Manhattan to the mill location at 461 Grandview Place in Fort Lee, NJ. A van would pick up the workers near their homes in Washington Heights and transport them across the George Washington Bridge to the mill. The mill was housed inside a newly-constructed, two-family home on a quiet suburban street, within 1,000 feet of an elementary school. Eight of the 10 defendants arrested yesterday live in New York City.
Based on intelligence and surveillance of the mill, investigators learned the defendants were in the business of packaging heroin. Yesterday morning, law enforcement officers searched the house on Grandview Place pursuant to warrant secured by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Assisting SNC and the NYDETF in the search and the arrests were the DEA’s New Jersey Field Division, Paterson Post of Duty, the Fort Lee Police Department, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Gangs and Violent Crimes Task Force, the Cliffside Park Police Department and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.
Upon entering the residence, law enforcement officers found one defendant, Cecelia Genao, had been stamping brand names on glassine bags at the kitchen table, while her preschool-aged daughter sat nearby eating breakfast and watching cartoons on television. Genao, who lives at the house where the mill was located, will be charged with endangering the welfare of a child and maintaining a heroin production facility, in addition to other drug charges.
The other nine defendants were packaging heroin in a back room off the garage, where all of the equipment for the drug operation was housed. In addition to the heroin and cash, agents also seized paraphernalia and packaging material, including dozens of stamps used to for branding the glassines. The glassines bore brand names ranging from “Spring Break” and “Roger Dat” to “True Love” and “LeBron James.”
Last night a New Jersey Superior Court judge set bail for Cecelia Genao and Luis Cabrera at $250,000 each. Bail for the other eight defendants was set at $150,000. Their next court appearance is scheduled for May 3 in Fort Lee Municipal Court. The defendants face multiple charges, including possession of heroin and possession of over 5 oz. of heroin with intent to distribute.
The charges and accusation are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.