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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

FBI, DEA, NYPD And New York State Police Seize Over 200 Kilograms Of K2 From Narcotics Factory Operating In Queens Storefront

New York Man Arrested in Connection with Raid

A joint raid conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force last night resulted in the discovery of a manufacturing facility and the seizure of at least 200 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoids, commonly sold on the street under the brand names “K2” or “Spice,” from a storefront in Queens, New York.  One defendant, Osvaldo Maria Vasquez, was arrested at the site in connection with a previously-issued arrest warrant charging him with participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 2014 and 2015. 

The seizure and arrest were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office, James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Commissioner William J. Bratton, New York City Police Department (NYPD) and Joseph A. D’Amico, New York State Police Superintendent. 

According to the detention memorandum, a search warrant was executed last night at “Excellent Tire Shop Services,” a business in Queens Village that purported to sell tires.  Upon entry into the premises, the agents located approximately 170 kilograms of suspected synthetic cannabinoids already packaged for immediate sale to customers.  Concealed behind a tarp in the rear of the premises was a narcotics manufacturing facility, where agents found industrial quantities of the chemicals used to manufacture synthetic cannabinoids, scales, packaging materials, flavoring agents, as well as a large amount of processed cannabinoids that were not yet packaged for sale.  In total, at least 200 kilograms of suspected synthetic cannabinoids were seized from the location.  Law enforcement estimates this quantity of synthetic cannabinoids to have a street value of at least $200,000. 

“Synthetic cannabinoids present a new danger to public health.  While sometimes called synthetic marijuana, use of these drugs can have unpredictably severe and even lethal effects,” stated United States Attorney Robert L. Capers.  “Last night’s seizure by the FBI and DEA represents another step in law enforcement’s response to this deadly serious problem.” 

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez said “the production of synthetic drugs creates serious concerns for the law enforcement community and poses a significant public safety risk for consumers of these volatile and potentially deadly substances. As we confront an epidemic in which society is saturated with the dissemination of many illegal substances, we stand with our partners in confronting this emerging challenge."

DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said “rearing its ugly head, synthetic cannabinoids were being manufactured and packaged with intentions to be unleashed in our city.  Due to good police work, a clandestine K2 lab was dismantled in Queens, demolishing the health and the societal dangers caused by K2 use along with it.”  

“This makeshift synthetic cannabinoid lab, which operated out of sight in the rear of a tire shop, was used to produce this poison in the vicinity of several homes and businesses,” said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.  “I commend the work of the Drug Enforcement Task Force and our FBI partners for seizing this drug before it reached the streets of New York.”

Joseph A. D’Amico, New York State Police Superintendent said “the dangers of synthetic narcotics are well documented, with very serious health and public safety issues that have occurred because of the increase in use. With this bust, we have succeeded in taking a large quantity of synthetic drugs off the streets, and shutting down the lab where they were produced. The State Police is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to keep these hazardous substances out of our communities.”

The defendant was arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.  The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Lauren Howard Elbert and Jennifer Sasso Carapiet are in charge of the prosecution. 

The Defendant:

Age:  36
Queens, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16 MJ 256

Drug Trafficking
Updated March 30, 2016