DEA seizes 300,000 ‘rainbow fentanyl’ pills in Bronx raid
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last weekend seized 300,000 rainbow fentanyl pills, more than 20 pounds of fentanyl in white and blue powder form and multiple weapons from a Bronx apartment in New York City.
The seizure is a significant drug bust, preventing more than 850,000 deadly doses of fentanyl and fentanyl pills from reaching New York communities, the DEA said in a press release.
The DEA has warned of the dangers of rainbow fentanyl, which are brightly colored and designed to look like candy, as a new and dangerous product being shipped into the U.S. by Mexican drug cartels like Sinaloa and Jalisco.
Agents have seized the dangerous drugs in at least 18 states. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is often laced in other drugs. Fentanyl is also extremely cheap to make.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said “rainbow fentanyl is one of many types of deadly fentanyl that ruthless Mexican drug cartels are producing to drive addiction and increase profits.”
“Every day, DEA sees Americans of all ages, including young adults and even middle and high school-aged teens, being poisoned by fentanyl in fake pills and powder,” she said in a statement. “DEA is committed to protecting our communities and we will stop at nothing to disrupt the criminal drug cartels, making it impossible for them to do business.”
The DEA worked with local authorities on the bust, including Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Hempstead Police Department, the New York State Police, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and New York City’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Authorities arrested Erickson Lorenzo, 30, and Jefry Rodriguez-Pichardo, 32, last Friday after obtaining a warrant to search their Bronx apartment.
The more than 22 pounds of fentanyl in powdered form were recovered inside the kitchen, living room and bedroom in clear packaging, while authorities found the 300,000 pills in two hallway closets and in Lorenzo’s room.
One large, black garbage bag contained up to 100,000 brightly colored fentanyl pills mixed together.
A Tec-9 semi-automatic assault weapon, extended magazine and a box of ammunition were
also stashed in a hallway closet.
Lorenzo and Rodriguez-Pichardo were arraigned in court on Saturday and charged with the criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and third Degrees, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said the pills were worth up to $6 million on the streets and the powder up to $3 million.
Fentanyl pills are masquerading in many different forms, and our city is flooded with them,” she said in a statement. “Any street drug, whether it looks like a legitimate pharmaceutical or like candy, may be fentanyl, and it may be lethal.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino said the seizure saved lives.
“Hundreds of thousands of lethal pills were lying in wait in a Bronx apartment to be unleashed onto our streets,” he said. “These drug traffickers are brazen, but they will be held accountable.”