Counterfeit Pill Ring Ran Out Of Vacant Apartment Busted By Police

By Maggie Ethridge 10/12/18

The building's super allegedly used a vacant apartment and boiler room to manufacture and package the illicit pills. 

Authorities standing outside of the vacant, drug-filled unit.
Authorities standing outside of the vacant, drug-filled unit. Photo via YouTube

Three men were arrested and charged in the Bronx with alleged production and distribution of black market pills. Lab tests determined that pills said to be oxycodone were actually a dangerous mixture of heroin and fentanyl, while the 50 purported ecstasy pills contained pure methamphetamine.

ABC 7 News reported that the men involved, Agustin Vasquez Chavez, Yefri Hernandez-Ozoria, and Roberto Castillo, are facing multiple drug charges after two separate arrests.

The first arrest occurred in July when undercover cops on 201st Street and Grand Concourse purchased two bags of pills for $5,000. Chavez and Ozoria allegedly sold 860 pills as oxycodone and another bag of 50 pills as ecstasy (or MDMA).

On September 11 police executed a second sting operation and arrested Chavez and Ozoria. Police confiscated approximately 3,000 purported oxycodone pills that looked to match the pills purchased on July 31.

Law enforcement is awaiting the results of DEA laboratory analysis.

Roberto Castillo is the superintendent of a five-story apartment building in the Bronx. Castillo allegedly used a vacant apartment and boiler room in this building to package and manufacture pills. Castillo worked with Chavez and Ozoria, who allegedly sold the manufactured and falsely labeled drugs in a large-scale black market pill distribution ring.

All three men were arrested and charged on September 11 in connection with an alleged conspiracy to produce and distribute black market pills containing heroin, fentanyl, and meth, officials said. Chavez and Ozoria were arrested first, after which police were granted permission to search the boiler room and vacant apartment in Castillo’s building. There, in the boiler room, police found a pill press machine. 

The boiler room and apartment were being used as a pill manufacturing operation, which included a pill press machine, pill press imprints designed to create oxycodone markings, multiple surgical masks and a vacuum sealer. The apartment contained a refrigerator filled with yet-unknown substances in assorted colors, as well as drug paraphernalia such as cutting agents, grinders and containers.

According to an official, 420 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture were found in a suitcase, in addition to nearly 180 grams of methamphetamine and approximately 1,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills.

"Narcotics traffickers have long exploited the nation's high demand for pain pills, a powerful gateway to addiction, but this investigation reveals an even more deviant scheme—an organization creating and distributing counterfeit pills with highly potent and lethal compounds, manufactured in an apartment right next to the boiler room," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan in a statement.

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.