BRONX, New York (WABC) -- A recent seizure of $5 million worth of fentanyl in New York revealed a new tactic cartels are using to smuggle drugs into the United States, prosecutors and federal drug agents said Wednesday.
Officials say 300,000 fentanyl pills and more than 11 pounds of fentanyl powder were recovered from the gas tank of an SUV.
"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," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino
The vehicle, a red Ford Expedition with Texas plates, had been stopped in the Bronx where a task force of DEA agents and NYPD officers discovered a hidden compartment that accessed the gas tank from inside the SUV.
Authorities say 300,000 blue fake oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and five kilograms of powdered fentanyl were contained in vacuum sealed packages, and submerged in the vehicle's gas tank, according to New York City's special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
"At a time when our city's overdose rates are at a record high, the discovery of more than 11 pounds of powdered fentanyl and hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills manufactured to look like prescription pills, concealed in the gas tank of a truck near the Bronx Court House, is truly alarming," Brennan said.
The fentanyl seized from the Ford Expedition is believed to have originated in Mexico. The investigation revealed that the vehicle has crossed the U.S.-Mexico border multiple times.
The driver, Enrique Perez, 44, of Columbus, Ohio, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $200,000.
"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 Clark said.
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