LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States At…

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Drug
Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), RAYMOND W. KELLY, Police
Commissioner of the City of New York Police Department (“NYPD”),
MICHAEL J. THOMAS, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York
Office of the United States Internal Revenue Service, Criminal
Investigation Division (“IRS-CID”), KEVIN DELLI-COLLI, the Acting
Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Department
of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(“ICE”), MARK J. MERSHON, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the
New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”),
and WAYNE E. BENNETT, Superintendent of the New York State Police
(“NYSP”) — working collectively as the New York Organized Crime
Drug Enforcement Strike Force — in conjunction with the Money
Laundering Unit of the NYPD Organized Crime Investigation
Division (“OCID”), announced today that 15 members of an
international heroin manufacturing and distribution operation
based in the Bronx, New York, have been convicted of narcotics
trafficking and firearms offenses. According to various plea
proceedings and documents filed in Manhattan federal court:
On August 15, 2005, Strike Force officers, working
together with members of NYPD’s OCID Money Laundering Unit,
raided the mill located at 3166 Fenton Avenue, where the officers
seized more than 19 kilograms of heroin, over 150,000 vials of
heroin, over $320,000 in cash, 150 grinders used to manufacture
heroin for retail sale, two money counting machines, a
bullet-resistant vest, seven firearms, and quantities of
ammunition. Law enforcement officers also found and arrested 13
members of the criminal organization who were manufacturing and
packaging heroin in the mill at the time of the raid. Two other
members, including the main leader of the operation, were
arrested subsequently.

The main leader of the mill, ADRIANO MEJIA, a/k/a
“Denny,” had been working inside heroin mills since at least
2001. MEJIA pleaded guilty to distributing over 1 kilogram of
heroin, using and carrying a firearm during the heroin operation,
and money laundering. MEJIA collected hundreds of thousands of
dollars in cash from the sale of narcotics in and around new York
State and New Jersey, and sent that money to the Dominican
Republic.

The Fenton Avenue location was the latest site used by
a large, international organization of heroin traffickers. From
2001 through August 15, 2005, the organization operated heroin
manufacturing “mills” where members of the organization worked
15-hour days, 7 days a week, to manufacture and pack heroin for
retail sale. The organization never stayed at one location for
long. Instead, they moved from one mill to another in the Bronx
approximately 12 times before the police raided their last mill
at 3166 Fenton Avenue. The leaders and workers slept in these
mills located in homes in residential areas of the Bronx, where
the workers earned about $1,000 per week, and the managers earned
about $2,500 per week. Millions of dollars in heroin and cash
moved through the mills each month.

Last Friday, June 22, 2007, JOSE AVILE, a/k/a “Pipi,” a
leader of the organization, was the last of these 15 defendants
to plead guilty to narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses.
During his guilty plea, AVILE admitted that when the raid of the
3166 Fenton Avenue mill started, he brandished a gun and
threatened the workers in the mill not to make a sound because he
planned to escape. AVILE was later found hiding under a bed on
the first floor of the three-story house. He also admitted that
he was packaging over one kilogram of heroin for distribution at
the time of the raid.

MEJIA faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in
prison and an advisory Sentencing Guidelines range of 322 to 387
months’ imprisonment. MEJIA will be sentenced on September 7,
2007 before the Honorable ALVIN K. HELLERSTEIN. AVILE faces a
mandatory minimum sentence of 17 years in prison and an advisory
Sentencing Guidelines range of 444 months to life imprisonment.
AVILE will be sentenced on September 26, 2007 before the
Honorable RICHARD M. BERMAN. In addition to MEJIA and AVILE, 13
other defendants have pleaded guilty to various narcotics and
firearms offenses.

Mr. GARCIA praised the efforts of the Strike Force and
OCID officers and agents in the investigation of this case.
Assistant United States Attorneys REED MICHAEL BRODSKY,
MARISSA MOLÉ, and ARIANNA BERG are in charge of the prosecution.
07-162 ###

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