Suffolk investigators announced the largest seizure of uncut heroin in county history on Tuesday.
The heroin, weighing 17 pounds—or 7 kilos—wrapped in black plastic and shaped into foot insoles, was seized by Suffolk Heroin Task Force on July 25 in the parking lot of the Extended Stay America hotel in Melville, said Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota at a news conference. He was flanked by task for leaders, including Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, New York State Police Major Walter Heesch and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. Two illegal immigrants living in New Jersey were arrested in the bust.
“What you see here epitomizes how heroin is smuggled into the U.S. from the production zone,” said DEA Agent Joe Evans, head of the agency’s Long Island office, of the insoles. He noted that the New York-Metropolitan area has been home to 14 percent of the nation’s heroin busts in the past two years.
The two defendants collected the insoles from other illegal immigrants who had the insoles in their shoes as they walked across the U.S.-Mexico border, investigators said. The 90-percent pure heroin was enough for 500,000 doses and has a street value of $8 to $10 million, Spota added.
Were the bust not made, it would have been cut twice before it would be distributed to street-level dealers, officials said. They would not discuss further details of the case as the investigation is continuing.
Abraham Lopez-Perez, 23, of Elizabeth and Odir Mora, 30, of Fords, New Jersey pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. They are being held on $300,000 cash bail and will be back in Suffolk County court on Thursday.
The previous heroin weight record in Suffolk was 6.6 pounds, or three kilos, seized by the task force in March of this year from Gilberto “Macho” Rivera of Oakdale and 12 members of his crew, Spota said. Before that, there was a 1.1-pounds heroin seizure in 1995.