NEW YORK, New York (WABC) -- Police officials announced Monday that they have seized 20,000 pills of counterfeit oxycodone suspected to contain fentanyl and more than 4 pounds of heroin in the past week as a result of two investigations.
The pills carry a street value of up to $600,000, according to authorities.
Counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, a potentially lethal synthetic opioid, are increasingly appearing on the black market in New York City, police said.
Four suspects are charged in criminal complaints filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Authorities say that on February 7, 2019, agents and officers were conducting surveillance as part of an ongoing investigation centered on a suspected narcotics trafficker, Andres Reyes-Martinez, when they observed him entering and exiting a cellphone store at 155-B West Kingsbridge Road in the Fordham Manor neighborhood of the Bronx.
The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor secured a search warrant for the location, and agents and officers entered the cellphone store at approximately 5:50 p.m. Reyes-Martinez and a second individual, Jesus Garcia, were the only people present inside the store at the time.
Garcia, the purported owner of the cellphone store, stood behind the counter and was in conversation with Reyes-Martinez.
Officers found a second floor storage area, recovering approximately 14,000 small blue tablets stamped "M30" that closely matched the color and markings of prescription oxycodone.
Police said the pills were split between 14 bags, each holding approximately 1,000 pills, and are suspected to contain fentanyl.
Police also recovered two brick-shaped packages wrapped in duct tape, each weighing approximately one kilogram, containing a tan powdery substance with the characteristics and appearance of heroin.
Four days earlier, on February 3, 2019, agents and officers made a similar seizure after conducting surveillance on a livery car heading southbound on the FDR Drive.
Officers stopped the vehicle, in which suspects David Espinal and Victor Almanzar-Cardenas were traveling in the vicinity of First Avenue and East 49th Street.
Police say Espinal had a large object in his pocket and began flailing his arms, refusing to be handcuffed. Officers recovered the object that proved to be a large clear plastic bag containing approximately 6,000 pills.
The pills were blue in color and were stamped "M30," markings consistent with oxycodone. Subsequent laboratory analysis revealed that the pills contained fentanyl.
The fentanyl pills recovered in these investigations are believed to have originated in Mexico.
Fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, is cheaper to obtain than pharmaceutical-grade opioid prescription pills and much more deadly.
Overdose deaths in New York City are at record-high levels, and fentanyl is involved in more than half of these fatalities, officials said. Experts say a customer accustomed to taking oxycodone would not necessarily have the tolerance to be able to ingest fentanyl without suffering an overdose.
Black market 30 mg oxycodone pills can sell on the street for up to $30 each, officials said. At that price, the combined total number of pills recovered in these investigations could have carried a street value of up to $600,000.
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Police: 20,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills seized in Bronx, Manhattan