$5 million fentanyl bust reveals new cartel drug trafficking pattern

BRONX, New York – With authorities and lawmakers cracking down on drug trafficking, cartels are getting more creative in hiding drugs.  The DEA says officers found $5 million worth of fentanyl inside the gas tank of an SUV in New York City. The seizure included approximately 300,000 fake oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, along with more than 11 pounds of powdered fentanyl.

The drugs were very creatively hidden, but an NYPD K9 alerted agents and officers that there were likely drugs in the vehicle. It took authorities looking through Perez’s phone and finding photographs of cash and what appeared to be a hidden access point to the gas tank from inside the SUV. Agents discovered the gas tank was accessible from the rear floor area.

Gas tank where pills were found and 300,000 fentanyl pills and 5 kilograms of fentanyl/Photos courtesy DEA

The DEA believes the drugs originated in Mexico.

“This seizure demonstrates one of the many ways evil drug cartels, like the Sinaloa cartel, smuggle fentanyl from Mexico to major cities like New York for street distribution. While we hit the accelerator on our enforcement efforts, the cartels go to extremes to conceal illicit drugs in implausible spots, like the gas tank of a vehicle,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino said.

The driver of the SUV, Enrique Perez, 44, of Columbus, Ohio, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. The vehicle he was driving had a Texas license plate, and authorities say their investigation revealed that the Ford Expedition has crossed the U.S.-Mexico border multiple times.

“Thanks to this investigation, hundreds of thousands of dangerous pills were taken off the streets of the Bronx. These fake oxycodone pills containing fentanyl would have ruined so many lives and would have likely killed many,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said

Emily’s Hope has talked with parents of several young adults who have died after they took what they thought was a painkiller, but instead was a deadly dose of fentanyl.