Skip to main content
Press Release

Two Charged In Connection With Scheme To Operate Industrial-Scale Illegal Narcotics Pill Pressing Operations Throughout New York City

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Darren B. McCormack, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”); and Frank A. Tarentino III, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today the filing of a Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging JUAN MOISES PEREZ MENDEZ, a/k/a “Caballero,” and ODALIS EUSEBIO PERALTA BAUTISTA, a/k/a “Luis Collazo Santos,” with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and distribution of narcotics.  PEREZ MENDEZ and PERALTA BAUTISTA were arrested on Saturday evening, April 6, 2024, in the Bronx.  They were presented this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Over the past year, this Office has worked with laser focus to disrupt industrial-scale pill mills that press powdered narcotics into pills.  In the process, we have removed millions of deadly fentanyl pills, meant to mimic legitimate prescription drugs, from the street.  This past weekend, we acted again, shutting down an alleged pill mill in the Bronx and seizing large amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine.  We also arrested the two individuals who allegedly operated that pill mill.  As alleged, one of those individuals, Juan Moises Perez Mendez, is a prolific narcotics trafficker, connected to at least two other major pill presses this Office has disrupted in the last year.  I am deeply grateful for the efforts of our law enforcement partners and the career prosecutors of this Office as we work to save lives by keeping fentanyl off the streets of our community.”   

HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Darren B. McCormack said: “These arrests are the result of the exceptional work our El Dorado Task Force does to remove the threat of lethal amounts of fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription pills that are wreaking havoc in our communities.  HSI New York, along with our law enforcement partners, remain determined to shut down these underground poison mills and dismantle the flow of deadly substances into our communities.  The criminals who operate these illegitimate manufacturing sites will face justice for their production and distribution of illicit synthetic opioids which are responsible for perpetuating the public safety epidemic across the country.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III said: “Over the weekend, the DEA New York and our law enforcement partners conducted another successful operation resulting in two arrests and shutting down another illegal pill mill located near a school in the Bronx.  Fake pills, laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine, like the ones seized this weekend, come in every color, shape, and form, and are disguised to mirror the appearance of prescription pills, making them hard to detect by sight and extremely deadly.  This operation emphasizes our commitment to protecting communities from these fake pills and those responsible for producing them.  I commend our special agents and law enforcement partners on this successful operation.”

As alleged in the Complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]

Law enforcement has been investigating a network of drug traffickers operating industrial-scale illegal narcotics pill pressing operations in multiple locations throughout New York City.  As part of those operations, the traffickers have converted spaces in residential buildings to press large quantities of powder narcotics, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, into pill form for wholesale distribution.  At these locations, drug traffickers have manufactured millions of pills for further distribution, sometimes manufacturing hundreds of thousands of pills in a single session. 

In or about May 2023, law enforcement searched the basement of a particular building in Washington Heights (the “Washington Heights Building”), where they found large quantities of narcotics, as well as the materials and equipment necessary to press narcotics into pill form, including commercial-grade pill presses.  In connection with that search, law enforcement officers arrested Juan Efren Paulino. 

PEREZ MENDEZ appears to have entered the basement of the Washington Heights Building in the days leading up to the search and communicated with Paulino regarding narcotics.

A photograph of the narcotics recovered from the Washington Heights Building is below:

Photo of narcotics recovered from the Washington Heights Building

In or about October 2023, law enforcement officers searched the basement of a building located on Beaumont Avenue in the Bronx (the “Beaumont Building”) and arrested four individuals.  In the basement of the Beaumont Building, law enforcement officers found hundreds of thousands of pills and over 20 kilograms of narcotics, along with three industrial pill press machines, one disassembled pill press, a kilogram press, and narcotics mixing and repackaging materials including blenders, dyes, jars of calcium citrate (frequently used as a narcotics cutting agent), and industrial-grade gas masks (used for protection when handling narcotic powders intended for pill pressing). 

In or about August 2023, law enforcement officers observed PEREZ MENDEZ appearing to enter or exit the Beaumont Building. 

A photograph of the narcotics recovered from the Beaumont Building is below:

Photo of the narcotics recovered from the Beaumont Building

In light of PEREZ MENDEZ’s involvement in the pill mills at the Washington Heights and Beaumont Buildings, law enforcement officers began conducting surveillance of PEREZ MENDEZ.  During the course of that surveillance, law enforcement officers identified a storage room (the “Storage Room”) in the basement of a particular building located on Gerard Avenue in the Bronx (the “Gerard Avenue Building”) that was frequented by PEREZ MENDEZ and PERALTA BAUTISTA.

On April 6, 2024, at approximately 7:15 p.m., law enforcement officers arrested PEREZ MENDEZ as he was exiting the Gerard Avenue Building, only minutes after leaving the Storage Room.  After the arrest of PEREZ MENDEZ, law enforcement officers approached the door to the Storage Room.  A loud pounding sound could be heard emanating from within the Storage Room, which was consistent with the operation of a pill press.

Not long after, the loud pounding sound stopped, and PERALTA BAUTISTA exited the Storage Room.  At the time, PERALTA BAUTISTA’s shirt appears to have had white powder on it.  As PERALTA BAUTISTA exited the Storage Room, he was placed under arrest.

Law enforcement officers then searched the Storage Room, which was used by PEREZ MENDEZ and PERALTA BAUTISTA to store powdered narcotics, combine the narcotics with other fillers, use dyes to color the combined powders, and then use large industrial-scale pill presses to create hundreds of thousands of deadly pills.  Many of the pills appear to have been manufactured to be indistinguishable from prescription medications such as Xanax, Adderall, and OxyContin, though in fact they contain, among other things, varying quantities of fentanyl. 

Among other things, law enforcement officers found two industrial-scale pill presses; approximately 130,000 pills, the vast majority of which field tested positive for the presence of fentanyl (the remainder of which field tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine); approximately three kilograms of a powder in zip lock bags that tested positive for the presence of fentanyl; a bucket containing approximately 20 pounds of powdered narcotics, which field tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine; and approximately 3.5 pounds of suspected crystalized methamphetamine.  The suspected narcotics and pill presses are depicted, in part, below:       

Photo of the suspected narcotics and pill presses recovered from the Gerard Avenue Building
Photo of the suspected narcotics and pill presses recovered from the Gerard Avenue Building
Photo of the suspected narcotics and pill presses recovered from the Gerard Avenue Building

Additionally, law enforcement officers found materials used to mix powdered narcotics with fillers as well as packaging materials used to package narcotics for further distribution.  Those items included mixing bowls, a blender, strainers, dyes, thousands of glassine envelopes, and empty bottles of calcium citrate.  From on or about June 10, 2023, to on or about March 3, 2024, PEREZ MENDEZ and his girlfriend purchased approximately 1,274 bottles of calcium pills from a particular retail chain of consumer products.  This amounts to approximately 356,720 calcium pills.

*                *                *

JUAN MOISES PEREZ MENDEZ, 56, of the Bronx, New York, and ODALIS EUSEBIO PERALTA BAUTISTA, 53, of New York, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and one count of narcotics distribution, both of which carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.   

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

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the El Dorado Task Force International Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit, which is comprised of law enforcement officers and investigators from HSI, the DEA, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, the U.S. Postal Service, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, and the New York High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, in connection with this investigation.  

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maggie Lynaugh and Adam Sowlati are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint 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 Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated April 8, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-121