October 26, 2017
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Seven Charged In Sales Of Fentanyl And Heroin Branded “Pray For Death”
Reckless Endangerment charge stems from overdose caught on video, victim revived by emergency responders
NEW YORK - James J. Hunt, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement (DEA); Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor; Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark; James P. O’Neill, the Police Commissioner of the City of New (NYPD); George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State (NYSP); and Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security (HSI), announced today the arrest and indictment of seven defendants in connection with sales of fentanyl and heroin to undercover officers and the possession and attempted possession of weapons. One defendant is charged in connection with a fentanyl overdose that was reversed by emergency responders.
An indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor is the result of a six-month investigation by the New York City Police Department’s Bronx Narcotics Heroin Overdose Team, in conjunction with the NYPD 52nd Precinct Field Intelligence Office and the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force Group Z-52. The Bronx District Attorney’s Office reviewed and submitted multiple wiretap applications for court authorization in connection with the investigation.
Beginning yesterday morning, members of the NYPD and DEA Strike Force arrested the six defendants in the Bronx and Manhattan on a total of 48 counts, including Conspiracy, Criminal Sale and Possession of a Controlled Substance, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Reckless Endangerment. A seventh defendant was already in custody on unrelated charges. Arraignments are scheduled for this morning before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Abraham Clott, Part 61, 111 Centre Street, 9th floor.
The investigation began in April of 2017 and focused on an open air drug market in the vicinity of Marion Avenue and 194th Street in the Fordham Manor section of the Bronx, a few blocks from Fordham University. This illicit market falls within the NYPD’s 52nd Precinct, which encompasses neighborhoods with some of the highest overdose death rates in the city, according to data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental (DOHMH). New York City experienced a 46% increase in overdose deaths in 2016, which DOHMN has attributed to fentanyl. A synthetic opioid, fentanyl is produced illicitly and is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin.
Charges in the indictment relate to 15 sales of narcotics to undercover police officers for a total of nearly $10,000. The investigation revealed that the defendants claimed to be selling heroin. However, laboratory analysis by the NYPD determined the substance sold in each of these instances was either a mixture of heroin and fentanyl or in some cases fentanyl alone.
During the investigation, police learned that Billy Perez, 39, allegedly supplied several street level dealers operating in the open air market with fentanyl and heroin. Police observed Perez allegedly transporting narcotics from his residence at 109A Cove Court in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx and handing the drugs off to an intermediary in the vicinity of an apartment associated with Perez at 2600 Marion Avenue. The intermediary passed the narcotics to Hector Figueroa, 61, who lived in the neighborhood.
Figueroa allegedly supplied the narcotics to street level dealers operating in the open air drug market in front of a gated parking lot and recycling collection site. Following drug sales, the alleged dealers made cash payments to Figueroa and the intermediary. The defendants discussed the transportation and sale of narcotics in phone conversations and through text messages.
On September 3, 2017, stationary video camera captured one street level dealer, Stanley Sacarillo, 35, selling glassines to a customer seated in front of the gated parking lot on Marion Avenue. The customer snorted one envelope and then the other. Shortly afterwards, the customer began to overdose. On the video, Sacarillo could be seen checking the overdose victim’s pulse and making a phone call. He then carried the overdose victim around a corner away from the drug market. The phone call proved to be to 911. An ambulance arrived and emergency responders successfully revived the victim. Sacarillo is charged with Reckless Endangerment in connection with the sale that led to the overdose.
During the investigation, Sacarillo allegedly made more than one dozen sales to undercover officers during the investigation, including the largest sale in the case, which took place three days after the overdose. On September 6, 2017, Sacarillo allegedly sold 300 individual dose glassines envelopes of purported heroin to an undercover officer for $2,850. Analysis by the NYPD laboratory showed these glassines contained fentanyl and not heroin.
Perez and Sacarillo also face weapons charges as a result of the wiretap investigation. Perez is charged with possessing a loaded firearm with intent to use the weapon against another on September 20, 2017. Video from a stationary camera on that date shows him walk into the parking lot, where he is alleged to have retrieved the gun, and then quickly head into the lobby of 2600 Marion Avenue, where he propped open a door in what appeared to be an attempt to have easy access to the weapon. Sacarillo is charged with attempting to possess a gun on September 9, 2017.
A court authorized search of Billy Perez’s residence yesterday at 109A Cove Court yielded approximately $200,000 cash and 215 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin/fentanyl stamped with an image of a kneeling skeleton and the brand name “Pray for Death.” Another 100 glassines of suspected heroin/fentanyl were recovered from the residence of Hector Figueroa, 365 East 193rd Street, around the corner from the open air drug market. A small quantity of suspected heroin/fentanyl and clothing and items associated with Perez were recovered from 2600 Marion Avenue, Apt. 6.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan thanked her office’s Special Investigations Bureau, Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, the New York City Police Department’s Bronx Narcotics Heroin Overdose Team, in conjunction with the NYPD 52nd Precinct Field Intelligence Office and the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force Group Z-52.
The DEA Strike Force, which is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security (HSI), the New York State Police, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and (ATF), U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative and part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program.
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt stated, “The highest overdose rates in New York City were recorded in neighborhoods such as the one this drug crew called home; the Fordham Manor section of the Bronx. The Perez’ business blended into this community, enlisting co-conspirators like a 61-year-old neighbor to act as a middle man to street level dealers. They sold heroin, heroin laced fentanyl and sometimes sold fentanyl as heroin to uninformed users and neighbors resulting in addiction and overdoses.”
“This predatory organization was set up for business at a recycling collection site where potential customers would return empty cans and bottles to scrape together the cash to purchase dime bags of what they thought was heroin,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “Instead the defendants were selling fentanyl, a potent drug fueling a rash of overdose deaths that is particularly concentrated in this neighborhood. We will hold drug dealers responsible when there is clear evidence they endangered the lives of customers by profiteering off the sale of lethal drugs.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, ““The video of a man buying drugs, snorting them and quickly overdosing on a Bronx street corner is a chilling testament to the ferocity of fentanyl. Fortunately our first responders revived the victim, and his dealer stands charged with reckless endangerment. I am proud to work with our law enforcement partners to hold these merchants of destruction directly accountable for overdoses.”
“Heroin and fentanyl are killers. The defendants pushed their poison onto the streets of the Bronx, with high concentrations of fentanyl and a blatant disregard for human life,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “I want to thank the detectives and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the work on this case and their focus on helping save lives.”
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "I applaud the collaborative work of our law enforcement partners at all levels and for the relentless efforts to keep illegal drugs off our streets. The arrests of these seven individuals is a result of their hard work and commitment to aggressively target and pursue criminals who perpetuate the distribution of these dangerous narcotics and the criminal activities associated with them. Together, we will continue to work diligently to prevent the flow of these illegal drugs into our communities before they threaten the safety and security of our neighborhoods.”
"The illegal distribution of fentanyl and other opioids has ravaged American communities, and sadly continues to do so. As these indictments clearly demonstrate, the alleged brazen act of distributing this deadly poison openly in the community is an affront that will not go unchallenged by law enforcement," said Angel Melendez, Special Agent in Charge for HSI New York.
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.