Police Seize 32 Million Lethal Doses of Fentanyl In NYC

By Keri Blakinger 09/25/17

The fentanyl seizure is the largest in New York City history.

Seized drugs from the massive haul in NYC.
Seized drugs from the massive haul in NYC. photo via NYC Special Prosecutor's Office

A record-setting pair of recent drug seizures in New York City netted 270 pounds of heroin and other narcotics, including enough fentanyl to kill the entire state of Texas. 

The $30 million busts came a month apart and were announced last week by city officials, according to NBC New York.

“The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said in a statement. “It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast.” 

The first hefty seizure came on Aug. 1, when the DEA and NYPD nabbed four suitcases of drugs from a home in the Kew Gardens neighborhood in Queens. Aside from 64 kilograms of pure fentanyl, investigators seized 22 kilos of fentanyl mixed with ketamine and tramadol, 5 kilos of heroin, and 6 kilos of coke— all for a grand total of 213 pounds of high-powered narcotics.

Investigators got a warrant to search the 120th Street home after tailing two suspects on a 1-kilogram drug deal inside a New Jersey Walmart. When the two trafficking suspects pulled in to the Kew Gardens house afterward, agents seized the drug delivery and secured the apartment as they waited for a court’s authorization to search the place. 

The resulting find became the city’s largest ever fentanyl seizure, with an estimated 32 million lethal doses. 

Just over a month later, on Sept. 5, Queens detectives uncovered a mobile drug trove when they pulled over a minivan near Yankee Stadium and found a duffel bag full of drugs. In the hours before the Bronx bust, detectives had tailed two men to a drug hand-off outside a New Jersey Home Depot. It was on the way back to the city that a traffic stop netted a massive drug seizure.   

A DEA official boasted that the busts “undoubtedly saved countless lives,” while the Manhattan district attorney lauded it as a step to “stem the tide of illegal drugs” into the city. 

“This case demonstrates our Department’s deep commitment to protecting the public from drug cartels that seek to profit at the expense of our citizens," said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill.

“The NYPD has been successful in drug interdiction to date, but this seizure goes down in history as a milestone in the ongoing fight against fentanyl.” 

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.