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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 11, 2018

Three Charged With Conspiring To Distribute More Than 100 Grams Of Carfentanil In The Bronx

Carfentanil, a Fentanyl Analogue 100 Times More Potent Than Fentanyl, can be Lethal in Doses of as Little as 20 Micrograms

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,  James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division (“DEA”), 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 Investigations (“HSI”), George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the arrests and unsealing of Complaints charging MIGUEL ESCANO, EMANUELLI RIVERA, and PEDRO DISLA ROJAS with conspiring to distribute heroin and more than 100 grams of carfentanil, a controlled substance analogue of fentanyl.  ESCANO, RIVERA, and ROJAS were presented yesterday before Magistrate Judge James L. Cott in Manhattan federal court.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “These defendants are alleged to have been engaged in the production and distribution of large quantities of carfentanil.  Carfentanil is a potentially lethal drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl.  As little as .00002 grams can kill.  A substance meant as an elephant tranquilizer should not be hitting the streets as a recreational drug.  Thanks to our law enforcement partners for their efforts to stem the tide of lethal opioids.”

DEA Special Agent-In-Charge James J. Hunt said:  “This investigation is about more than just arrests and seizures, it is a public health warning.  Carfentanil is death, and drug dealers are packaging it for sale on the streets of New York City.  Law enforcement is battling the opioid suppliers on the front lines and this drug has the potential to double or triple overdose rates if we don’t get it off the streets quickly and warn users of its extreme danger.”

HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “The individuals charged today are alleged to have introduced a drug that is one hundred times more potent than fentanyl to our Bronx neighborhoods.  Law enforcement is paying close attention to those who are profiting in this nefarious drug game to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and face prosecution.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “Anyone who continues to peddle this poison on the streets of New York City should be prepared for the full weight of our nation’s best investigators to bear down on them.  I commend everyone involved in this case, particularly the members of the New York Drug Enforcement Strike Force, as they have proven again just how effective our law enforcement partnerships really are.”

State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said:  “The work of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force stopped these dangerous and potentially deadly drugs before they could reach the streets of New York.  We have no tolerance for those who allegedly continue to traffic narcotics with no regard to the damage they inflict in our communities, and anyone who does can expect to end up in prison.  We will continue to work with our federal and local partners to prevent the flow of these illegal drugs from reaching our neighborhoods.”

According to the allegations in the Complaints[1]:

On three separate occasions between January and March 2018, ESCANO sold an individual acting at the direction of law enforcement a substance containing carfentanil in transactions that involved 50 grams, 70 grams, and 70 grams, respectively.  RIVERA assisted with the January 2018 sale.  Carfentanil is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other mammals, is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and can be lethal in doses of as little as 20 micrograms depending on the way it is administered and other factors.  

As law enforcement officers prepared to execute a search warrant on a Bronx apartment on May 9, 2018, RIVERA exited the apartment and was arrested.  Law enforcement seized approximately 100 grams of suspected narcotics in connection with the arrest of RIVERA, which have not yet been tested because the substance needs to be examined in a laboratory environment in light of the potentially lethal nature of carfentanil.  Following the arrest of RIVERA, law enforcement officers searched the apartment and found ROJAS inside.  During the search, law enforcement officers seized, among other things, suspected narcotics and materials commonly used in the production and distribution of narcotics, such as respirator masks, grinders, strainers, glassine bags stamped with the names “Sweet Dreams” and “Nasty Boyz,” a wooden press, and a stamp with the words “My Angel.”  Law enforcement arrested ROJAS in connection with the search of the apartment.

*                *                *

RIVERA, 32, of the Bronx, and Rojas, 38, of the Bronx, were each charged with one count of conspiring to distribute carfentanil and heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

ESCANO, 30, of the Bronx, was charged with one count of conspiring to distribute carfentanil, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

The statutory maximum and minimum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for information purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the 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.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Longyear and Nicolas Roos are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaints and the description of the Complaints set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Press Release Number: 
18-155
Updated May 11, 2018